Saturday, January 7, 2012

Finding Embellishments for Crazy quilting

I think half the fun of crazy quilting is scrounging around thrift shops, ebay, and rummage sales looking for the perfect thing. But sometimes those things come your way without having to look too hard.
I was in a fair trade store not looking for anything in particular, and spied their Christmas ornament section. It was there that I found this peacock- superbly hand embroidered and goldwork encrusted ON BOTH SIDES. It is hard to capture the beauty of this piece with my little camera.
I bought it and proceeded to very carefully remove the stitching that held the two sides together. Now I have this gorgeous piece ready to go for my peacock crazy quilt. I so enjoy the beautifully embroidered pieces I see coming from India and other areas of Asia. It looks like I'll be doing some shisha mirror work to back this beautiful bird up!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Another Peacock Block that sets the tone

My CQJP 2012 is going to have lots of peacocks, paisleys, and fans. Here is another peacock I made a while back that will eventually go into my quilt. I have decided on doing 9 12" squares.
I'm not really sure I like the 12" squares. When something gets to this size I end up enlarging my seam treatments to match the scale and I lose some of the delicate beauty of CQ. One of the advantages of a larger block though, is that it is easier to fit in larger embroidered motifs which adds more versatility to the block.
I embroidered the peacock tail using princess perle thread and beads. It was a free motif somewhere off the internet.
The paisley was a class I took from Betty Pillsbury. Go to her new blog and check out a few more by going to her gallery. Awesome.
My January block is pieced. Now I can get to the fun part!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Getting Ready For CQJP 2012

The holidays are over, and I've been ruminating about my CQJP 2012 project. A year is a long time, and I want to work with colors and themes I love. I pulled out this 12" peacock block I made several years back, and this is perhaps my favorite theme. I certainly want to incorporate other motifs as well, but peacocks, fans, and paisleys will dominate my blocks. I've never done a pieced fan block (think Dresden Plate). It's a great way to try out new stitches. Plus fans in general add an elegance to quilts and blend nicely with the peacock theme...their tail all puffed up is the most beautiful fan of all. They also lend an opportunity to work more on technical skills without worrying about design and placement. That will be a nice breather now and then.
I'd like to explore the versatility of paisley motifs. Betty Pillsbury does awesome paisleys and I'd like to dream up a few of my own.
As for peacocks- I want all kinds of interpretations in thread, beads, sequins, silk ribbon. You get the idea.
I'm going to make at least 2 12" blocks and see how it goes. I have done several in a one months span, but not a years worth. That could get tiresome. We'll see.
I love color and movement. But with the bright peacock colors, one of my challenges will be making sure there is a place for the eye to rest either through color or placement.
Just two more days in December and then I go at it full force!

Friday, December 9, 2011


When tragedy happens to those we care about, it's difficult to figure out what we can do to help. And there have been many weather related upheavals this past year that have created pain and hurt around the world. Earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan, fires in Bastrop, tornadoes in Joplin and Oklahoma, hurricanes on the east coast of the US, earthquakes in Turkey...and I could go on and on.
Donating to Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc. help restore basic services, and we all need to do our part to help people financially get back on their feet. But sometimes restoring people emotionally after these tragedies is even more important.
Our Crazy Quilt International group started making crazy quilt hearts for one of our members, Hideko, who was dealing with the incredible pain of living through the terrors that affected Japan earlier this year. And when I heard that Betty in New York had gone through watching her entire town and much of her property be destroyed from Hurricane Irene, we proceededto make hearts for her as well. Here is a basket of them that were made by Crazy Quilting International members. It is a message of solidarity and hope.
I once heard that you should give people hearts, because your heart is the only place that you know where you can can keep those you care about safe. I hope that all the CQI members going through tragedy and getting these hearts know that they are sent to keep them in a very safe place- Our Hearts. Thanks to all the CQI gals who have participated in these type of efforts in the past year.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Louisa May Alcott Christmas

This was an ornament I picked up in Concord Massachusetts after spending several days there visiting Louisa May Alcott's home, revolutionary war monuments, and walking Walden's Pond. I was definitely having my Thoreau moment while there, and wanted to remember it, so the ornament was perfect. I came home, completed it, and sent it to the finisher. As it turned out, the finisher didn't think she ever received it. I came across a quote from Thoreau that said "A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone." And so I decided to let it alone.
My finisher called the following year and told me she had a Christmas present for me- and there it was, my cabin, found and finished! If you want a closer look at any pictures on my blog, just click on them and you will be able to see much better detail.
I did my own stitch guide for this and liked the stitches and threads I used. But even more, I love the memories it conjures up of a time and place where intellectual thought and practice was a daily activity.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Santa the Baker Ornament.

Another ornament from my collection. This one is probably about 12 years old. It had a stitch guide with a delightful array of stitches and beads which made it very fun to work on. The little fimo clay charms came with the piece, and are ever so tiny. I loved to cook during that period of my life.

One of my favorite cookie recipes:

Amish Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar


In large bowl, beat the butter, oil and sugars. Beat in eggs until well blended. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and cream of tartar; gradually add to creamed mixture.
Drop by small teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: about 5 dozen.

Now if I were to pick my favorite cookie today I'd run, not walk to Pam Kellog's site and go to her Dropped Sugar Cookie recipe. She baked some of these for my crazy quilting group when she came up to teach and it became my new favorite!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A look ahead to 2012

2012 is going to be one busy year. I have made some commitments to a few major projects that I want to focus on for the year. The first one is the Crazy Quilt Journal Project 2012. I am committing to making a crazy quilt block each month that is at least 6 by 6. I plan on turning the blocks i make into a larger quilt. While the design of the quilt is still just a twinkle in my eye, I know I want to try some "new to me" techniques. I want to do some stumpwork. I want to make I fan block (believe it or not, I never have!). I want to do more ribbonwork and silk ribbon embroidery. And I want to make more peacocks. Oh how I love them!

In conjunction with the Journal project I am going to be doing Take a Stitch Tuesday with Sharon Boggon at Pintangle. I was fortunate enough to be in a three day class with Sharon in Connecticut, and her stitching knowledge is extraordinary. How could I not? I am hoping to find ways of integrating these stitches into the crazy quilt block. (An idea stolen from one of my good friends Deb, who is also doing the Journal Project.)

Both of these programs are open to all...come join in the fun!

And as if that wasn't enough...I enrolled in Sue Spargo's BOM for 2012. I am in love with her work and wanted to do a wool piece. The colors in this piece are limey greens, and bright rosey pinks which fit in my bedroom, so how could I resist?

And what to do in my spare time each month (she laughs aloud!). I'm going to be finishing the 37 UFO projects I just counted. (I guess it's time to slink back into my cave and feel very very naughty!)