Sunday, May 31, 2009

Beaded Fringe and Silk Ribbon Flowers, Oh My!






In 1995 I made a couple of silk ribbon embroidered pillows. One of them is done on black fabric with a leaf design in it...very subtle. The fabric came from a bag of "fancy fabrics" I purchased from the flea market. I just had to use it as I thought it would make a very dramatic embroidered pillow.

I wanted to do it in silk ribbon embroidery. It had to have roses, at least some of them had to be a very soft variegated pink, and I wanted to use lots of beads. While designing the embroidery, I decided that the pillow had to have a beaded fringe, for two reasons - #1 I like making it and #2 with a lot of fringe around the pillow, just holding it would make me feel good. I am a very tactile person...aren't you?

So, I made the pillow that you see here. It's approximately seven inches square. The fringe is two and a half inches long. And, yes, you DO have to count each bead when making this type of fringe. Had I chosen to make the fringe in random lengths, I would not have had to count the beads....but since I wanted every bit of the fringe to match...well, I had to count. I have been asked how long it took to make this pillow. What an awful question! If I knew (in advance) how long it took - I probably would never do this kind of thing. Well, now, that's not true. I've got a pretty good idea, at this stage in life, just how long this kind of work takes and I'm going to keep doing it anyway!! Let's see - til all hell freezes over, til the cows come home, til pigs fly, til my eyes fail me, til my fingers no longer work and the spirit is no longer willing...and even then, it will be hard to give it up!!!

I've also been asked why I do this kind of tedious work....I guess some people just think it's silly to sit and work on one little thing for so long. Especially something that isn't necessary to life. The only thing I can say is it's not tedious to me and it is necessary to MY life! I love it, am passionate about it and for me, making it, then sharing it with other people is vital. Ever since I saw my first bit of embroidery, crochet and quilting I knew that is what I wanted to do. And, then later, when beading came along, I knew I wanted to do it too....all of those things....all the time. And, here I am.

When I was three, I kept trying to sweep my grandmother's front porch with her big broom. The next thing you know, I was given a child's little broom and I was in heaven. (Imagine that!!) Shortly thereafter, I told my Mother and Grandparents that "I was born to sweep!!" I loved sweeping that front porch. I still rather enjoy using a broom. And, since I first saw all that needlework, I knew I was born to do it also.

Tedious? Not to me. Silly or a waste of time...never! It's a complete joy. I think it shows in the work. What do you think? Take care out there! Pat

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May Flowers






I've mentioned before that I'm not much of a gardener and it's very true. I try. However, I love working in the Nest which takes a lot of time, so time for gardening just doesn't much exist around here. I LOVE flowers and can SEW them quite well....but GROW them...not so much. I take as many photos of flowers around here as I possibly can...they are inspirational, both to my spirit and, again, when I need design and color ideas for my work.

Today, I thought I would just show you some of the great flowers here these days. They don't last long, so are very special to me. I hope you enjoy them too.

Zinnias in an old galvanized tub. (Yes, there are holes drilled in the bottom of the tub!!) I love zinnias...such an old-fashioned, simple and straightforward flower. Can you see Lazy-Daisy stitches here?

Oh, my goodness! Roses....so beautiful! And, these have a lovely smell too. Picked for me by "that old Navy guy" I live with.
Close-ups are so revealing....the lights and darks. Maybe you see, as I do, satin stitches here.

The Gerbera Lollipop! Huge blooms. So detailed. Love the million little "petals" in each one. Do you see French Knots, Straight Stitches, and more Lazy Daisy stitches? Do you see embroidery floss, silk threads, perle cotton? I do.

Not a lot growing here at the moment, but enough to inspire me for quite a while. (There are some hydrangeas, one of my very favorites. Not fully blooming yet...stay tuned!) Are you inspired...if I might ask...to garden or to sew? Either way...I hope you enjoyed the visit. Take care. pat

Friday, May 22, 2009

My Quilt Pieces, Two Guys, and an Apron





Some years ago I chose some fabrics and set out to piece a quilt. You've done it too....bought fabric, cut the pieces out, started the piecing and then realized you just didn't like it. For some reason you can never really put your finger on...you just don't want to finish it. Haven't you been there? Oh, come on! (Of course, you have!!!)

This is exactly what happened to me when I chose this purple and green selection of fabrics. It did not turn me on. So, I did what some of us would just naturally do - gave the entire lot, pieces and all, to a friend! If you read this blog often...you probably already have guessed that I gave them to Jim. And, then, Time marched on.

Yesterday, our monthly Knot meeting was held in my Nest in the backyard. Jim came and brought something to work on, as he usually does. It turns out he had pieced together those purple and green pieces "from way back when" and made a quilt top. Then, our mutual friend, Tom, took the quilt top and quilted it on his new, long-arm quilting machine "for practice." Jim has taught art in the public school system for over 30 years and is now teaching in private school. Tom is a graphic artist living in Houston. Tom was a student of Jim's. Many years later, they are very good friends with a mutual interest in quilting. Good for me, as I am a quiltmaker, too, and friends with both of them. We don't get to see Tom very often, but it's a treat when we do. There is a close-up of his quilting here...notice how wonderful it is...practice, indeed!!!

I think it's really neat that a quilt I just wasn't interested in completing has turned out so well and it was made by two guys I really think a lot of...I'm sure none of my UFO's will ever again have such a wonderful end.

Jim swore on his arrival yesterday that he wasn't leaving my house til the binding was on that quilt. And, the label. He did manage to finish both. While the rest of us were working/talking/laughing/Jim went over to my sewing machine and busied himself for a bit....we had no idea what he was doing. Turns out he was making a tiny little apron for ME. You can see it right here...so little, so cute!! Look at that tiny pocket! The apron is five inches tall, the pocket is one and a quarter inches tall x one inch wide. What a guy! (Thanks again, Jim!)

A great quilt...two great guys...that special apron....a wonderful end to a long ago dilemma of what to do with "that" fabric!
Take care, Pat

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tea Party Quilt, Revisited






Today I thought I should talk about a quilt. It's been a while since I've done that. Of course, you know that I haven't finished a quilt since early last year. Haven't even worked on one to tell the truth. The other day I told someone that if I didn't do some quilting soon, "they" would come and take away my quilting "license." Whoever they are. Whatever the license is.

I have asked myself recently whether I would ever make a quilt again. There are several in the UFO drawer, just sitting there waiting on me to decide to do something. Will those get finished? I don't know. Lately I've been so involved with embroidery and crochet, finishing a quilt has gone on the back burner. Having FUN with what I am doing seems pretty important these days, however, having quilts in that drawer is making me feel kind of guilty....so what do I do? I'm torn.

I sometimes tend to work on things revolving around some "event" that is coming up. For me, this year, it is our guild retreat in September at which I will be teaching that pincushion class you've heard me talk about. So, all year I have become completely obsessed with pincushions. You know that. And, there is no sign of letting up. But, I do think that when I'm through this "phase" I will probably work on a quilt. Of course, it will probably have to have some embroidery on it!!!!

I think I posted photographs of this quilt last year, but today I was too lazy to look it up....and, maybe you are new to this blog and didn't see it anyway. This is one of my favorite quilts I have ever made. It was easy, I liked the way it looked, loved the fabric, and as you can see....it has embroidery!!! And, a basket....another of my favorite things.

All my applique is done by hand....some of this is done in reverse applique. And, all of my quilting is done by hand too. I'm just a pushover for handwork. Let's face it....everything I do is by hand....no apologies. The hand appliqued on this quilt just so happens to be mine. It was reduced to two-thirds real size.....to fit on the block. Get it? My hand, appliqued by my hand!
Well, ok, so it's not that funny......

I don't believe I ever have shown the back of this quilt....loved that fabric (shall I say I'm also a pushover for floral fabric!), and also love writing on fabric...hence the label.

So, there you have it for today....a reminder that I really can quilt....I just take a detour every now and again!!! What about you? Take care, pat

Friday, May 15, 2009

Some Surprise Flowers, A Surprise Visit, and Work in Progress






Sometimes a person just has multiple subjects to talk about and this post is one of those where I just have to talk about several different things. You know how it goes!

I've been trying to be more efficient, and not procrastinate so much. Have I ever told you that I love to "piddle around," and therefore, am a horrible procrastinator? Oh, it is so true. I guess I just love playing around in the Nest almost as much as being productive in the Nest....so I live in a constant state of being behind in just about everything. So, this week, I have really been trying to get things done.

In the midst of all this activity, my husband made an appearance in the Nest the other day bearing a vase containing some tiny white flowers. He had been out "surveying his kingdom" and found one of the shrubs in the back blooming, went into the house, got a vase, cut some flowers and brought them in to me. How sweet is that? Even sweeter, because the day before he brought in three roses! You can see them here. Pretty, aren't they? I took a closeup of one of them....just so beautiful! He always does things like this...and I think, for two reasons: #1- He's just a really nice guy! And, #2, he knows he will probably get in trouble later, so it's insurance against me getting too irritated. It works, I guess, as we're still married after all these years and we'd both like it to stay that way. One thing you should know...we are terrible at gardening, but we do appreciate what plants manage to survive our meager efforts. And, that old Navy guy.....he's just the BEST!!!

You all know I've been up to my ears in making pincushions this year...and I'm still going! Just love it! Here is one "in progress." It hasn't been "glorified" yet....but will be soon. I have some custom orders - pincushions and the like, so lots of thought going on around here regarding these little jewels. I don't know how you would approach it, but I love dreaming up different things regarding the glorifying!!!! I'll show you this one when it's finished.

Also, here is a sample of my candlestick collection....there are many more. At some point, each of these will become a pincushion and appear here, or in my etsy shop. Love finding these things at the flea market and anywhere else I happen to see them. Tomorrow I am going "out and about" to look for more...and that old Navy man is going with me. It should be a fun day!

Now, about Mother's Day! I told you I'd tell you what happened here last Sunday. It was a weird day, hilarious in many ways. This stuff could only happen to me as I am prone to funny stuff happening to me. I woke up Sunday morning not feeling too well. The only thing on our schedule was to have supper at my daughter's house at 6:00 p.m. Since I didn't feel very well...not sick...just not great - I told my husband that I "just wasn't going to get dressed all day!" I figured I might take a nap, read all afternoon, you know...be lazy! I never do that. Everytime I try to nap, or "just read all day" something happens. It's usually best I don't even think about it. (And let's don't even mention staying in your "night clothes" all day!!!) However, I DID think about it. Never did get that nap. Never did read all day. Just couldn't relax enough to do it. So, mid-afternoon, I told Richard that I was going out to the Nest to "piddle around a while." I thought I'd do that, then come in...take a nice shower, turn myself into a regular human being,then go to Kelly's for dinner. Sounded great to me.

So, just as I was starting to enjoy the piddling....I heard voices, looked out the window and saw two women. One was my friend, Carol Ann. The other was a total stranger. They open the door of the Nest and there I am....in my nightgown, my robe, and socks! Horrors!!! (As I said...THIS COULD ONLY HAPPEN TO ME!!) It turns out the woman I didn't know was the quilting guild's "out of state" teacher, here from Los Angeles to teach and lecture in Little Rock. You know...the kind of person you'd try to impress...not shock!! The fabulous quiltmaker, Margarete Heinisch. She was very nice and I got to see some of her wonderful work. That was a treat! What wasn't a treat was the fact that I was embarrassed out of my mind! Well, you would have had to be here to actually "get the picture." Suffice it to say...I may never enjoy another day like that again, thinking someone may show up and catch me a little too "comfortable." Ah, Mother's Day. We were late getting to the daughter's house, as my unexpected guests didn't leave until after six, but that didn't matter. It turned out to be a nice visit from a new acquaintance, and my son-in-law and daughter prepared a wonderful meal for me, so all was well.

Oh, what a week! Unexpected visitors, surprise flowers from a sweet Navy guy, a great meal cooked by my wonderful children, and work to do that I love! Stay tuned....seems there is always something unexpected, and sometimes hilarious, happening here! Take care, Pat

Monday, May 11, 2009

Candlestick Pincushion Class Sample






I'm sorry I haven't posted for the last week...just swamped with things to do and not managing anything well. But, I did "think" about posting, that's for sure and felt guilty for not doing it. I had intended to photograph the class sample I made from the class held here on May 2nd and show it to you earlier, but with the way things went...didn't finish it til late Saturday night. So...here it is! All my students went home with finished or "just about finished" pincushions. Some had a little more embellishing to do...and all were so different...just what I like to see happen. Of course, I needed to finish my own, as I thought I would either list it on my etsy shop or else take it with me when I do the program for my quilt guild in June.

I wanted to put a little bird on this one...because it was made in my "Bird Nest on The Ground" studio. Then, of course, some of my embroidered vines and simple flowers. Simple stitches were used...French Knots, Lazy Daisy, Stem Stitch, the Feather Stitch, some Herringbone stitches and some Spider Web Roses. Love doing all these simple stitches done on some wonderful wool fabric...wool is so easy to stitch on!

There's a covered button on top, embroidered of course, and underneath it is some crochet I made specially for this piece. It was FUN!

So many cool things happen when you have a blog! After posting about the class, I received a comment from a lovely person in Canada about a pattern for the pincushion. I then mentioned to her that I had one kit left if she was interested in purchasing it. Yes, she said. Then, I mentioned that I was finishing up the class sample later in the week and would be happy to send her a photo of it if she was interested in purchasing it rather than the kit. She WAS interested and might even take them both...and would look forward to seeing the photos. So, Saturday night, after finishing the pincushion, I took some photos and sent them to her. Early yesterday morning, there was an email from her saying she would love to have both the kit and the pincushion!!!

To top it off, she wrote the most lovely things about this blog and my work. What a lovely gift that was early on a Mother's Day!! I suppose you just never know who is reading your blog! You also never know who might be interested in something you made to sell. As I had mentioned to her, I intended to list the finished Candlestick in my etsy shop. Isn't it wonderful that I didn't get that far...she's happy and so am I!! How cool is that?

Teaching the "Girl Gang" on May 2nd was a lot of fun......and then, having the last kit sold, not to mention the sample, a delight. And, making a new friend in Canada...who knew that this blogging thing could be so much FUN?

When I next post I will be sharing with you the "story" of my Mother's Day. It was certainly different and a story I think you may find hilarious. I will tell you this...it could only happen to ME! Take care out there!! Pat

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Girl Gang Makes Candlestick Pincushions






There's a group of friends from North Little Rock and the surrounding area who have met together for years. They call themselves the Girl Gang, and up until now have met regularly at our favorite shop, Blossom Quiltworks. Well, much to everyone's dismay, Blossoms has closed it's doors, resulting in the Girl Gang losing it's "hangout." Cyberspace being what it is YOU and the Gang can still shop, though, at www.blossomquiltworks.com and we are glad of that. All that said, I was asked to teach a class on Saturday, May 2nd, here in the Nest, specially for the Girl Gang. No, the Nest will not become their next hangout...I'm too far away from most of them for it to work out, but I was excited that they chose this place to meet - if only for one Saturday.

The Gang wanted to learn how to make Candlestick Pincushions. One of the gang had purchased a candlestick pincushion from me last year. As a matter of fact, she was my first customer when I opened my etsy shop, purchasing her candlestick then. And, she has been a wonderful customer...so Sharon...thank you so much for all you've done for me! When I attended our guild's AWOL retreat in March, Sharon brought her candlestick pincushion and that's where the gang got the idea to have the class. Present here in the Nest yesterday was Sharon, Geannine, Letitia, Marty, April, Lynn and Shari. What a fun group they were too! Even though we are about to mildew here from all the rain (and rain MORE, it did) these girls drove up here determined to make a pincushion and have fun doing it. And, make them, they did!

I had the Nest all ready for their arrival, having made kits for them....complete with chocolate candy. I'm allergic to chocolate, but I have learned over the years that a group of women love to have their chocolate! It was fun making their kits, setting up the tables and preparing my three sewing machines so they could sew their wedges together. I even enjoyed setting the tables in the house for their lunch. I had heard that this group brings food. Boy, do they bring food!!! They had a bit of breakfast in the Nest, then lunch in my house...I love getting out the dishes and making things look nice. ( I even like cleaning up...yeah, weird, I know!!)

In one photo, you can see Shari sewing her wedges together on my Bernina. I forgot to tell her that she could raise the chair, I think it was as low down as it will go, so she probably was quite uncomfortable sewing there, but she didn't complain! Well, she's not tall either, so maybe it didn't bother her. I also had an old Singer from my son-in-law's family clothing store alterations department. They recently sold the store (Van Atkins, a Searcy store for many, many years) and Rick brought me the sewing machine, thinking I would like to have it. Yes, indeed! And, it sews like a dream after all these years. Also in use yesterday was my mother's old Singer Featherweight. It's the one I learned to sew on. I should post about it one day as it is now a beautiful color of RED!!

You can see Marty here, working diligently on her pincushion. I think I heard her say that one would be a gift. She always does such nice work, someone will be lucky! Also in this photo, you can see Sharon's hands....embroidering for the first time...isn't her stitching gorgeous?

Everyone did a fine job. They chose their own "bits" - (little pieces of crochet), covered their own embroidered buttons for the tops of the pincushions, made up designs, chose from my button and charm collection and threw out ideas for embellishing that were very exciting. We had lots of hearts - always showing up here in the Nest! Not to mention the cool ideas they had for using little embroidered bird patterns. While we could hear birds singing outdoors, birds were being created indoors too! That was "way cool."

I hope the Girl Gang had a great time. I think they did. I know I did as I love sharing this place and all the "stuff" in it. They'll find a new place to congregate...but meantime...it was great having them here! Take care. Pat

The Bird Nest on the Ground Studio

The Bird Nest on the Ground Studio
Right in My Backyard

A Bit of Heaven

A Bit of Heaven
An original designed wall quilt with my vision of heaven on earth.