30 October 2014

Be My Valentine DYB Bell Pull

2014.10.30ValentineDYB01

Another item from my unfinished project basket is complete!  This is the "Be My Valentine" DYB round robin that I participated in back in 2012.  Shortly after I sent these blocks out, my Mom got sick in Costa Rica and subsequently passed away, so I ended up doing almost no stitching in this round robin and someone else took over my spot.  But my blocks got to continue through the rotation and came back to me, beautifully embellished!  How nice to have this one finished! 

Valentine Blocks in progress
I fell in love with these vintage bird valentines and drafted two different crazy quilt blocks to use them on.  To vary them, I simply rotated the block designs.  It was something I had never done before and they turned out to be some of my favorite pieced blocks, so I definitely need to remember to try this again.

Valentine Bell Pull
These are the pieced blocks placed in the order I wanted them to go.

Valentine RR Blocks WIP
Here are the blocks as I received them back! Everyone did a wonderful job of keeping to the colors in the blocks as I had asked.  They also did a nice job of maintaining the somewhat "Zen" feel to the blocks. 

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Cathy Labath stitched this block and it is overwhelmingly my favorite of the group.  I love them all, but Cathy was able to interpret the feel I was after perfectly! 

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Elizabeth  Ahsanullah  stitched this lovely block!  Gorgeous beading!

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Alice Topp completed this block.  I loved how she kept things simple and in the colors of the block and added some background stitching to create interest. 

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Connie Kalina stitched this block.  She also did a fabulous job of keeping the serene and simple feel that I had hoped for! 

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Nicki Lee Seavy stitched this lovely block.  She creates lovely hand dyed lace and incorporated some of it into this block.  

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On the back I added a label in order to remember the ladies who participated in this round robin and where they were from. 

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For the backing, I used a linen fabric with a color that blended well with the silk blocks.  I used a variegated thread around the perimeter in a feather stitch.  Here you can see some of Cathy's fly/fern stitch leaves up close. 

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I just loved these vintage valentines!  Such sweet birds and sentiments!  I also love Cathy's green flowers on this block.  It's something I would never have thought to do, but they are simply perfect and just the right embellishment to this block!  It's a good reminder that sometimes it doesn't hurt to stray from what one "expects" to see! 

2014.10.26Mollie02
Before I go, I have to share a photo of my sweet Mollie Kitty!  I'm so grateful that she seems fully recovered from her illness this past spring!  At 14 years old, going on 15, she is still kittenish in so many ways!  She brings so much joy to my life!  I hope we have a few more years together! 

Thank you all for your gracious and kind comments about my last blog post!  I'm so glad to know that so many of you are uplifted by my blog!  

28 October 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

One of my very favorite Crazy Quilters, Allie Aller, nominated me to participate in the Around the World Blog Hop!

The four questions allow us to share a bit more about us and our creative process so you can get to know us a little bit better!


1. What Crazy Quilt/Sewing things am I working on?
As with most people who create, I have several projects going at any given time, but generally find myself working primarily on one of them at a time.  If I get bored or find myself blocked, then I switch to another project for a while.  Here are a few of the thing in my WIP (Works in Progress) Basket. 

2014.10.28RoundRobinProjects
I love participating in round robins and find that they inspire my creative process.  I have a host of these projects that need finished and compiled into completed form! 

2014.10.28RoundRobinBlocks
There are a few current round robins that I am in that have blocks that need stitched soon.

2014.10.28Pincushion02
As my frequent readers are aware, I've been working on a CD pincushion each month for the Crazy Quilt Journal Project 2014.  It has been lots of fun!  Having a yearlong project like this has been great motivation to keep stitching and I have loved seeing how my pincushions have evolved throughout the year! 

2014.10.28PincushionBlocks
There are only two more pincushions to finish this year!  I'm already thinking ahead to how I would like to participate in CQJP 2015.  It probably won't be pincushions though!

2014.10.28WoodlandQuilt
I have a few big "slow" projects in the works.  I've been working on this woodland quilt sporadically since 2011.  When I finished my Woodland Bunny purse, I realized I wanted to make a lap quilt with a similar theme because it was so tactile that I really wanted to snuggle up with it.  Most of the squares are one inch.  It takes a LOT of 1" squares to make a 12" square and many, many more to make up the foundation for this quilt.  There are 1,296 squares in the center 36x36" center! The entire quilt will be about 45" to 50" square when completed! That's a lot of hand stitching, so this isn't moving very quickly. 

2014.10.28AAnnaQuilt
This is a fun project that I am getting ready to begin.  My Aunt Anna created a huge number of these quilt wheels.  More than I would ever be able to finish.  I sent the majority off to Allie Aller as I really love what she has been doing with her combinations of traditional and crazy quilting.  There were so many, that she shared them with Valerie Bothell.  I kept back 9 of them to make a small wall hanging.  Allie came up with the fun idea of having all three of us work on our own projects simultaneously to see how we would each interpret them.  Right now we are waiting for the timing to work out for all three of us to have time to work on them at the same time.  I'm definitely the "slow" one in the bunch, so I've been hard at work thinking about how I want to proceed so I don't slow them up! 

2014.10.28FolkArtQuilt
I think that this is going to be my CQJP 2015 project ~ a wool folk art themed crazy quilt.  This was inspired by a vintage CQ that was posted for sale on e-Bay earlier this year.  I fell in love with the graphic stitching and the boldness of it.  Around the same time, I found a rug in the IKEA catalog that had a similar feel to it.  I sketched out some inspirations, played with different color-ways and  have stitched two "sample" blocks to try different styles of stitching on, which will help me figure out which direction I want to take this quilt.  Eventually, it will hang in my guest room and become the focal point of the room. 

2014.10.28XmasCard
There are some smaller projects in the works ~ this years Christmas card design, which incorporates a block print that my Mother created many years ago. 

2014.10.28FairyBlock
This fairy block is taking so much longer than I ever thought it would because I keep getting distracted by other projects.  I made the morning glories on my June Pincushion as a learning process before making the white moon flowers for this block! 

If you go back to some of my early January 2014 posts, you'll see that I have an entire basket full of unfinished blocks to work on.  I'm really good at starting things... not so great at keeping at it until I get them done!  Though I am trying to get better about that! 

2.  How does my work differ from those of its genre? 

I really love the stitching on the old crazy quilts and feel that aside from the "crazy" piecing, it's the stitching that really makes them what they are.  In our modern day crazy quilting, we've gotten away from stitching and more into embellishing with lace and trims and other doo-dads.  I find that the more crazy quilting I do, the more I return to the stitching.  Even if I am going to use lace or trims on a block, I nearly always embellish all the seams first.  
2014.08.28CQJP2014JunePCEmbroidered

I also love bringing something dimensional into my crazy quilting and that has inspired me to learn new embroidery techniques such as stump-work and Brazilian embroidery techniques.  I am very inspired by the work of artists such as Salley Mavor and Susan Pilotto.  
2014.10.20CQJP2014OctoberPC13

Hearts, Birds and Flowers
I also love to incorporate other techniques such as fabric weaving, paper piecing, etc., with boho or kantha type stitching to add texture and interest.  Jude Hill has been terrific inspiration for incorporating some of these precesses into my stitching. 

Green Bag side 2
Stitching small square of folded fabric together in a pseudo paper-piecing technique has become on of my favorite techniques.  It is slow meditative work that I love.  The added texture and interest  when combined with kantha type stitching makes it wonderfully tactile and brings a depth and intrigue to it that sparks my imagination.

3. Why do I create what I do?

In a nutshell, I create because God created me.  I believe that we are made in the image of a creator God, that we were created to create.  By creating, we honor that gift and can use it to bring glory to God, to be witness to him.

Philippians 4:8 says, "whatever is  true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

By nature, I am a quiet person, somewhat shy and reserved.  I am a lover of nature, of peace, solitude and quiet.  My faith is the foundation of all that I do and create.  I revel in the beauty that is revealed around us daily, no matter where we are.  When creating, whether it is crazy quilting, painting, or some other form of art or handcraft, it is my hope that these creations will nourish hope and peace and that they will encourage people to seek out the wellspring of all life.  I try to create items that are lovely and gracious, that uplift those who observe and interact with them.

As an artist, I seek out the beauty in life, from the grand vistas to the minutest details.  Regardless of what it is, when something catches my eye or triggers a response in my heart, I simply have to capture that moment and share it with others!

4. How does my creating process work?

This is a question without an easy answer!  Creatively, I am involved in so many endeavors, from photography to crazy quilting and embroider, watercolor and oil painting, to sewing, quilting, scrapbooking, spinning, knitting, weaving, candle-making, baking, writing and endless other handcrafts.  None of them exist in a vacuum and I find that each one brings something to whatever project I am working on at the time.

watercolor tools

A sketchbook and pocket watercolor set along with a camera, are my nearly constant companions.  When something sparks my interest, I try to capture it with a simple sketch or photograph.  It might be a tiny detail, like the pattern of raindrop splash on the windshield of the car, the play of light through the clouds, the layers of light and shadows in the evening landscape, the colors of the grass or leaves.

2014.10.28SketchesThe corners of my papers, from work notes to sketchbooks, post-it notes, index cards, and even napkins or paper towels get little things drawn on them.  I'm definitely a visual thinker and sketching things out helps me in the creative process, even though the finished item may not look at all what the initial sketches looked like!

As you can probably see from my sketches above, it is nature that inspires me the most, but I also keep files of magazine clippings, a generous Pinterest portfolio of ideas and am always watching for things that inspire me.

Journal page ~ Green cloth
One of my favorite authors has said that her writing evolves with the characters, that she doesn't know where they will end up but that the story grows and evolves with them.  That's how I feel about my stitching.  I may start with an idea, a theme, or a color, but then it grows from there.

Green Cloth ~ Beginning
Once I begin a project, I think about what the finished item will look like; what colors, stitches, and size it will be.  Occasionally, I will sketch out a concept for a completed project, through once finished, the project rarely is a complete match from where I started.  As I work through ideas, I make little scratchy sketches in the corners of whatever paper happens to be handy ~ the back of envelopes, my to do list, my notes at work.  This helps me work out problem areas or figure out how to pull something together.

Green Bag Finished!  side 1
As I start working, the process flows rather organically.  I let one seam inspire the next and when I'm stumped, I refer to my seam idea book for inspiration.  Any planning that happens is generally focused on concept.  The details grow and change as the project progresses.

Lisa's work on Carolyn's Pansy DYB Block
One of the reasons I love working on round robin blocks is that it gets me out of my comfort zone and pushes me to work with colors and themes that I typically wouldn't work with, like the peach and yellow block above that I stitched for Carolyn.  I love taking a block that someone else has pieced and watching it come to life.  If I am further into a round robin, then there is the added challenge of making the block I am working on blend with the work that has come before it.  All of this stretches my creativity and often become my best work.

Regardless of what project I am working on, it's always a learning process!  A new stitch to try, a new technique to learn, new materials to work with and new projects to work on.  My tendency is to want to work small and I've done so many small projects in the past few years.  In this coming year, I hope to reach out and work on a couple of big projects and see them through to completion!

I'm also hoping to branch out into teaching.  I had such a good time with the two short classes I did at the CQI retreat in September and had great feedback from them!   I'd love to do more!

To carry this Around the World Blog Hop on, I nominate the following crazy quilters/Needle artists, who are favorites of mine and many others!

Gerry Kreuger at: http://olderrose.blogspot.com/
Margreet at: http://drechtelf.blogspot.com/

26 October 2014

Pansy Bell Pull

2014.10.26PansyBellPull01
At long last, I finally completed the Pansy Bell Pull that has been in my basket of unfinished projects for the past 3 1/2 years!  Once I got started on it, it really didn't take long to complete and now it looks so nice hanging on the narrow wall in my kitchen between the doors to the studio and to the dining room! 

Pansy DYB Blocks
These are the blank blocks that I sent out in May of 2010.  

Pansy Blocks home!
In January 2011, this is the set of blocks as I received them home!  The top center block was a "group" block on which every stitched a little in addition the complete block that they stitched.  I really loved getting back a complete set of blocks!  When there is an empty block left for me to complete, it seems to languish in the unfinished project box for far longer! 

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This block was stitched by Cathy LaBath from Iowa.  I loved how she turned the tucked silk fabric into a window overlooking a flower garden!

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This is the group block with bits of stitching by everyone.  So many fun little details and having a little bit of stitching similar to what is on other blocks helps to tie the entire group of blocks together. 

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This block was stitched by Carolyn Phillips from Georgia.  I love being in round robins with her as her stitching is exquisite! 

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This block was stitched by Arleen White from Australia!  I love her buttonhole stitched butterflies!  And that little spider in the bottom corner?  I can't tell you how many times I picked this block up and jumped back thinking there was a real spider on it!  The photo doesn't do it justice.  

2014.10.26PansyBellPull06
This block was stitched by Alice Topp from Wisconsin.  This was a tough block to stitch because the colors were rather pale and washed out compared to the other blocks, but she did a great job of helping it blend with the others! 

2014.10.26PansyBellPull07
Kerry Leslie of Canada stitched the last block.  She does beautiful stitching too and I just love those bullion stitch butterflies on the right!  This block did have an "issue" though that I had to fix before completing the bell pull as you will see in the next photo. 


Pansy DYB WIP glue issues
Kerry including a sunny faced pansy with a clay face for the center.  It was glued together and unfortunately did not hold together in mailing.  The back of the face had also cracked and was loose from the block.  I had hoped to reuse the ribbon to create a new pansy but when I pulled it off, it was so saturated with glue that I ended up having to discard it.  

2014.10.26PansyBPDetail08
I made a new pansy to take its place out of some wired ribbon in my stash.  I wish I'd had some with that pinkish edge to it, but this one came out well. 

2014.10.26PansyBP05
The lovely beaded cabachon in the center was also fairly heavy compared to the other blocks, so this block ended up at the bottom to keep it from buckling.  Kerry also included a fun glitzy spider and web on this block!  

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A closer look at some of my favorite details from these blocks.  Cathy's window of flowers is just lovely!  


2014.10.26PansyBPDetail10
Her block is filled with these amazing little cast-on stitch pansies!  


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I just love them and I'm going to have to try making some of the these myself!

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The group block has this sweet bird bead sitting on a branch!  Makes me smile! 

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Carolyn included a lovely beaded dragonfly!  The cloisonné bead that she used for the body is just perfect! 

2014.10.26PansyBPDetail02
Her exquisitely stitched pansy is probably my favorite element on all of the blocks!  Just beautiful! 

2014.10.26PansyBPDetail03
Arleen included some lovely crocheted pansies on her block that I think are vintage!  They are beautiful! 

2014.10.26PansyBPDetail11

I used a lovely batik fabric to back the bell pull.  It picked up all the colors from the blocks without overwhelming the lovely work that everyone did.  I used feather stitching all the way around each block.  On the back, I put a label showing who stitched which block and where they were from.  This really was an International Round Robin!  It was definitely one of my favorites to stitch in and resulted in some of my best work.  It's great to have this finished and hanging on the wall where I can enjoy it! 

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