Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hearts for Peyton

Here is a photo of today's work. A friend is making a heart quilt to auction off for a 4 year old named Peyton who has been diagnosed with neurofibromatosis and will be undergoing chemotherapy. There is a benefit dinner and auction later this month to raise funds for his family. I made these blocks today for my friend to use in the quilt.

Stories like Peyton's and his family make me wish I was rich and could donate a bunch of money to cancer research and helping patients and their families through these hard and uncertain times. But I'm not rich and will probably never be rich enough to give away the amount of money this problem requires. So I make a few quilt blocks, stitched with love and prayers of healing. Then I go hug my child and say a prayer of thanks that he is healthy.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Wonky Courthouse Steps

I finished the piecing of this art group project this morning. The next step will be quilting it but I have not yet decided how I will do that. There are a lot of seams in this which will effect the quilting. I think it needs to hang on the design wall for a few days while I work on other things.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Family Member

This is Goldie (notice the gold colored eyes). She came to live with us yesterday. She is 3 months old. We went to Big R yesterday to get some plumbing supplies to fix a leaky toilet. As we were checking out, the cashier told us that they had free hot dogs, donuts and sodas in the customer service area and we could go help ourselves. Parker was starving, as usual, so we went over to get him a hot dog. Right next to the customer service area was a women with a momma cat and a kitten for adoption. She had already given away the other kittens. Parker fell instantly in love with Goldie. Tony and I were pretty smitten too.

The new best friends.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Crazy Week!

Sorry it has been so long since I have posted. It has been crazy at my house this week. Our roof was finished yesterday.

Now the paint looks 10 times worse than it did, and it looked bad before. Painting will be our next project.

In addition to the roof and insulation project, which lasted 3 1/2 days, the semester began at the College on Monday so my husband and I are back to work. School began for our son on Tuesday. For some reason he didn't get off the bus at his stop on Tuesday afternoon so we lost him for about 20 minutes. A parent's worst nightmare and this is the second time we have lost our child. (He was three the first time and I still get shaky just thinking about that experience.) Anyway, he was fine, just really confused and had no idea that he was even lost.

We had to completely empty our attic storage space so that they could do the spray foam insulation so we have boxes and bins of stuff every where waiting to go back into the storage area. The insulation project was pretty messy - dusty - so I have lots of cleaning to do and no motivation to do it.

I did get to do a little stitching this afternoon.

I am almost finished with my little Joy ornament.

I am really liking this one! I think it's a little large for an ornament but I can fix that. This one was just my prototype anyway.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Roof and Insulation Work Begins Today

The old roof is coming off today. We'll hopefully get the new roof tomorrow. They also started pulling out the moldy, falling down insulation in the attic space.

What is all that black stuff? Guano! Bat poop! Words are inadequate to express the grossness of this image. We are getting spray foam insulation to replace the old fiberglass. Along with a new properly installed roof, this insulation will, they claim, seal all the cracks so that bats can't get in to the attic next year.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Playing with a Purpose

Every year I make ornaments for my nieces and nephews and other children special to our family. I have played around with several ornament ideas for this years ornament, but nothing really excited me, until today ...

I started with a square of fabric, about 4 1/2" in size, on a piece of batting. I did a quick zig-zag stitch around the edges just to baste the two layers together. Then I got out some of my variegated DMC floss.

I thought it might be nice to try stitching a word.

Now I am stitching whatever pops into my head.

When I'm done stitching, I plan to back this with a Christmas print, whipstitch around the edges, and attach a hanging loop.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Last Hurrah of Summer

Yesterday four moms from our playgroup took our six children to Walsenburg, CO to Wild Waters Water Park. It was a long day, Walsenburg is about 75 miles over La Veta Pass from Alamosa, but it was a lot of fun!

They have a zero entry pool with a platform in the middle full of water sprays that the kids can turn on and off.

They have a lazy river area.

They have two water slides. The yellow one requires a tube, which they provide. The green one is for people only - no tubes.

All the kids loved the slides. Carrying your tube up the stairs repeatedly really wears out an 8 year old.

As you can see in the above picture, they had single tubes and two person tubes.

They also have a deep pool with a diving board, a short slide for little kids in the zero entry part and ample shade with lounge chairs for the grown-ups. However all the moms in our group got in on the fun, going down the slides and relaxing in the lazy river area.

If you are ever in the Walsenburg area in the summer, this is a really fun place to spend a day. They do not allow you to bring in food but they will stamp your hand so you can take your picnic lunch to the park next door and then return. The park has ample picnic tables.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Art Group Meeting

My art group met again yesterday. We did some more liberated, wonky piecing and make courthouse steps blocks. I came home with these three blocks and extra pieced rectangles.

This afternoon I played with them some more.

This is where I have to stop for the day. I'm planning to add a little more to the top and along the right hand side.

I am really enjoying this liberated style piecing process and using only solid fabrics!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Paintstiks, Part 3

Interweave was having a sale recently and I took the opportunity to purchase a couple more accessories for my Paintstiks. First, I bought the Grip-n-Grip mat. What a weird name, but I really like the product.

It is a smooth, firm mat that you put underneath your fabric to hold it in place while you are painting on it. This is to be used instead of taping your fabric down. What a time saver! And I think it works better than taping. When I did the pieces I showed yesterday using the rubbing plates, I had to tape down three sides of the fabric and slide my hand underneath the fourth side to move the plate around. This was not easy and I ended up distorting my fabric a little in the process. I don't think it mattered for those pieces, but using this mat would have made the project easier. (I didn't use the mat because I did those projects on Thursday and this didn't arrive until Friday afternoon.)

The second thing I got was a new book with a stencil set. The book is called Design Magic by Shelly Stokes.

In the book she shows you how to make your own stencils in this style using freezer paper. However, I think her premade, transparent plastic stencils are probably easier to use, at least for a first project with this method. If you decide to buy the book, I recommend you look for a book/stencil set like I got. It is so nice to be able to open the book, read a few pages and start on a project. Making the stencils yourself doesn't look to hard, but I bet it is time consuming. Probably well worth the trouble to make one of a kind fabric, but not for trying out the process to see if you like it. This book also contains projects in addition to information on how to use her new stencils.

This is one thing you can make with the stencils that come with the book. She also has several other sets of stencils you can purchase and I probably will at some point.

There are two stencils per set, one is the negative of the other. Her instructions are quite clear on how to prepare your fabric (just press a few registration lines) and how to line up the stencils and interchange them so that you get great designs like these.

Another thing I really like about the book is that she shows you how to clean your stencil brushes. I have never used oil paints before and had no idea how to properly clean my stencil brushes and her first book didn't say much more than be sure to clean your brushes when you are finished.

Well, that is the last of my recent Paintstik projects. I haven't done anything with these yet because they are still curing. You have to let the pieces cure/dry for 3 to 7 days and then heat set them. I will probably heat set them today.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Paintstiks, Part 2

For the next couple of projects I used rubbing plates. I used a set made by Cedar Canyon Textiles called triangles. The set contains six plates and this image from their website shows you the six plates in the set. Click here to see the other sets they have.

For this first one I use the other half of the fat quarter from the grid project. Here is the before photo.

And the after

I was trying to move the plate uniformly so I could get a nice evenly repeated image of the rubbing plate. These plates are about 6 inches square so you pretty much have to move them around to fill up an area with the design. It was impossible for me to move it uniformly so I gave up on the next two.

For this one I used the gold and copper colors from my set of iridescent Paintstiks and moved a plate around somewhat randomly, twisting and turning it.

For this one I used two of the blue colors and again moved a rubbing plate around, twisting and turning it.

One of the things I find frustrating about my set of paint sticks is that the individual sticks are not labeled. (I have the set of 15 mini iridescent sticks.) So I have no idea what colors I am using. It didn't occur to me until just now that I should number my sticks with a Sharpie and then I can at least make notes to myself about which colors I used on each project.

I have one more project to share with you tomorrow. I'll be giving a short demonstration/lecture to my guild on Saturday about Paintstiks. These will be my samples.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Paintstiks, Part 1

On Thursday afternoon I played with my set of Paintstiks. I did several projects. This was the first one. I cut a very pale purple hand-dyed fat quarter in half.

First I taped it down to the back of a cutting mat. I wanted a smooth surface that could be easily cleaned up if the paint seeped through - it didn't. Then I taped off a grid. I used the tape as my palette.

Just rub the paint stick along the tape and pull the paint onto the fabric with stencil brushes. Here is what it looks like finished, before pulling off the tape.

And then after pulling off the tape.

I got the idea for this from the book Paintstiks on Fabric by Shelly Stokes. It has a lot of great ideas and techniques for using Paintstiks.

I like the one in the book better than mine. I think I need to blend the colors better. But this is okay for a first try. I'm sure I'll figure out a way to use this, just not the way I originally envisioned. I definitely like the grid idea. More on my other projects tomorrow.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Lucky Day

I awoke Monday morning, checked my email and almost spilled coffee on myself. I had an email from Pat Sloan, the Pat Sloan, telling me that I had won her "Things that Make Life Better" giveaway. This cute-as-a-button collection of Aurifil thread. Aren't the colors great?

It arrived today! She also enclosed two patterns, one each for her current fabric lines. Thanks Pat!! Now to put these to good use ...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gifty Day

I told you that I had a gift occasion coming up but that I didn't know exactly who the gift would be for. The occasion was today and we played a little game to exchange gifts. Big surprise - I made a purse to give!

Inside the purse I place all the dry ingredients necessary to make a pot of bean soup and a pan of corn bread, along with the recipes. I think the recipient liked it.

I love the gift I received!

The teapot is one I have had. The gift is the tea, the teapot cozy and the little trays for the used tea bags. Look at how cute this tea is!

I wish I could put smells on my blog. This tea smells so divine. I had a pot of this White Ambrosia this afternoon while I played with my Paintstiks. I'll show you photos of my afternoons work soon.

The other thing I have been doing a lot of lately is baking zucchini bread. It freezes so well and my family loves it. My husband and son will eat one of these loaves, by themselves, in one sitting, for breakfast. I didn't even get any of the first two loaves I made!

I have always had trouble getting this bread out of the pan in one piece. With these loaves I tried putting parchment paper on the bottom of the pans. It came out perfect!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The magic of stitching and a book review

I bought this fat quarter a couple weeks ago with the idea that it would be a nice base for some hand stitching. So I basted it to some batting and auditioned some of my variegated Sulky threads. I started stitching with the top one, the red, but quickly realized this was not what I had envisioned. On to plan B.

This DMC green floss was laying out because I had used it on a different project. I moved it out of the way and placed it on top of this project because there was no where else to put it at that moment. When I went to put it away, I decided it might be what I need for this project so I started stitching with it. I was happy with this so I kept going with a different color. (You can click on the images to enlarge them)

I really like the blanket stitch and didn't think I would. It creates a nice raised area, almost as if there is cording underneath. I have not decided what I will do in the area between the different colors. I am using the book Stitch Magic by Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn, which I purchased recently as inspiration for this project.

From the back of the book:

"... a unique vision of how stitching can be used to interpret designs"

"Over 90 sumptuous photographs of stitching with detailed explanations of the techniques"

"Includes a comprehensive stitch glossary and stitch diagrams showing the variety of design applications for different stitches"

Warning: the stitch diagrams are photographs of hand drawn, hand written diagrams. The diagrams are clear but the hand writing is small in places and not as easy to read as it could be. Do not  purchase this book expecting it to act as a resource on how to do the hand stitches. However, there are other resources for this information and many are available free online.

"Practical advice is given on the choice and planning of stitches and the creation of unusual backgrounds"

In summary, this book is mostly about using basic stitches in non-traditional ways. It is an excellent resource for ideas and inspiration. If you enjoy hand work and free-form stitching by hand, I highly recommend it.

It is an older book, first published in 1998. Shop around if you are interested in purchasing it. I got a used copy for $19 and change from Powell's Books online, including shipping. I got a really good deal! On Amazon I have seen used copies listed for between $25 and $999.98! In my opinion the book is definitely worth $25 but no way would I pay $1000 for it!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Creede, CO

Today we spent the day in Creede, CO. First we say a play at the Creede Repertory Theater.

We say "Zeus on the Loose," a very cute play geared toward kids. Parker loved it.

We had lunch and then went to the Mining Museum.

We took the 30 minute audio tour and it was very interesting. I will be going back to Creede in September for the Silver Threads Guild Quilt Show. Their show is in the community center that is part of the mining museum. It is very interesting to see the quilts displayed in a mine! If you are ever in the area this show is worth a stop. It is held the third weekend in September of even years.

Parker bought himself some pure gold ($4) and pure silver ($3.50) in little bottles from the museum gift shop. He is now sure that he is rich! At the moment, he is showing every neighbor he can find his new trinkets.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Stitchin' and Pickin'

I have started this new little hand stitched project. I don't have a clear picture of where this is going yet. I'm just enjoying the process of hand stitching at the moment.

One of my friends has a house on a double lot with a large garden on the second lot. She offered to let several of us have a row in their garden to plant as we wanted. I let Parker choose the plants. Check out the broccoli we picked this morning!

We also came home with a bag of lettuce, a few small carrots, a cucumber, some celery, a variety of beans, an acorn squash, some yellow squash and zucchini.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

River Fun

The Rio Grande is not so grand right now. Since it is so low our playgroup decided to meet at the river this morning and let the kids play in the water and mud.

So four moms, eight kids and a dog met this morning for a few hours of river fun. The kids had a blast!

In places it was about knee deep for Parker, but mostly it is very shallow.

Lots of good sticks to find and ample mud for all.