Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

From my garden to yours...

Wishing you a bright & hippity, hoppity

HaPpY EaStEr!

I got to do a little Easter decorating in the fairy garden this week, I've been looking forward to this all winter, everything's bursting in to bloom and so colorful, I love this time of year! 

Hope you're having a nice Easter, try not to eat too many deviled eggs!


Friday, March 29, 2013

A Visit With Salley Mavor

Howdy Kids!
Last weekend my mom and I headed down to Fresno to meet one of my favorite fiber artists, Salley Mavor, who's traveling exhibit, Pocketful of Posies is currently on display at the library at Fresno State University, the exhibit opened Friday night, but we went down Saturday morning.
This photo is an image from Salley's book, Pocketful of Posies. It's also the  image she's currently using as her blog header, such amazing detail! Look at all that chain stitch!
 Salley was doing a book signing at a wonderful, local children's book store called Petunia's Place, so that's where we headed to first. Fresno is quite a drive from where I live in Lodi, about 150 miles, but the opportunity to meet Salley and see her work in person was well worth it. I've been a fan of her art, and her blog for some time.

Salley was so friendly and gracious! I enjoyed a little bit of time chatting with her about her work, and embroidery in general. I even got to see a something she's currently working on, a small patchwork quilt with lots of stitching, it's going to be amazing when it's done, an heirloom to be sure. I got to have her autograph my copy of Pocketful of Posies, look at how sweet the small illustration is that she drew!

Salley's work is incredibly intricate and creative, I absolutely love the detail that infuses every piece.

I think this is my favorite panel from Pocketful of Posies, A Treasury Of Nursery Rhymes, look at all the sweet little faces of her Wee Folk!

And of course, a tea shop! Isn't is terrific? Again, the extraordinary detail is just gorgeous.

This is another of my favorites, a wee fairy hiding from the rain under a delicately stitched mushroom.

This image is from Salley's book In The Heart, which is sadly out of print, but which I was fortunate to  purchase a copy of that day at Petunia's Place. I'm a lucky ducky!

I also picked up a copy of Hey Diddle, Diddle
I've now got myself a nice little collection of Salley's books, happy, happy!

After hanging around the book shop and chatting with Salley and her husband, who was kind enough to take our photo, as well as give me a few pointers with my camera (darn white balance!), mom and I took off to find some lunch. Then headed over to the University to see the exhibit... queue scary music!

Dun, dun dun!

The library was CLOSED!
Boo! Hiss!

The exhibit had only opened the night before, this was opening weekend, how could this happen to meeeeeeeeeeee? I called the bookstore to verify if I was in the right location, and sadly, I was. They were shocked to discover the building closed too. I gave that closed sign a mighty scowl, let me tell you.

I don't think I'll have another chance to make it down to Fresno to see the exhibit before it moves on as it's so far away :( What a bummer... 

But hey, look who I met in the parking lot at FSU, this little chubster!
He was friendly, a little too friendly. He ran up on me so quick I thought he was going to jump in my pocket! I love squirrels, but that was a little too close. I squeaked and jumped in the car! He only loved me for my cookie crumbs anyway...

So even though I didn't get to see the exhibit, the day wasn't so bad. I got to spend quality time with mom, chatting about all manner of things on our long, long drive to & from. Meet one of my favorite artists, eat a killer lunch from Whole Foods (and can I just say, Whole Foods, if you're listening, please, please come to Lodi! I love your hippy foods and delectable deserts, I'm pretty sure I can single handedly keep you in business). And get an up close visit with Mr. Squirrel. Not too shabby!

This week has been a busy, exciting one! I can't believe it's already Easter weekend, and I can't wait to tell you guys my breaking news! You'll have to stay tuned for more, mwuahahaha!


Monday, March 25, 2013

In A War

In a war someone has to die.
Wow. Powerful, right? Certainly grabs your attention, it certainly grabbed mine.

In A War Someone Has To Die is a collaborative art project being curated and exhibited by Danish artist, Hanne Bang, and this is my small contribution, which I'm happy to know has already arrived in Denmark.

Hanne is asking people from all over the world to embroider these words in their own language on a handkerchief and send them to her. Together, the hankies will be displayed in large and small spaces depending on the exhibition space. If you would like to participate, you still can! Hanne is still accepting hankies, you can use your own, or if you do not have one, she will mail one to you. All kinds of stitching, and all kinds hankies are welcome.

Why this text? Best to quote the artist here...

Why this text?
A couple of year
s ago I happened to zap by a TV program, in which a journalist was interviewing a professional African soldier. To the soldiers great disappointment he was out of work at the moment – because there was no war in his region.
The interviewer asked the soldier if he was afraid of dying, and the soldier said: “No I am not afraid of dying. Are you afraid of dying?” The interviewer answered: “Yes I am afraid of dying”. Then the soldier said, without any sentimentality: “In a war someone has to die”.

These words are the main element in the art project. I use this sentence – these harsh words – in a feminine expression, as handkerchiefs and embroidery are.
”In a war someone has to die” is a universal art project - across language, country, culture, political beliefs and religion.
A commentary on the war.

Hanne has set up a Facebook page and has lots of pictures of the handkerchiefs already on exhibit, it's really a sight to see, so many women (and men!) contributing and all of our stitches displayed together at once. Like I said powerful.

More information can be found on Hanne's website & Facebook page, but I'm providing her address here, just in case you're shy and would like to send one in. 

 You can mail your handkercheif to:
Hanne Bang
Saettedammen 18
3400 Hilleroed, Denmark.

Have you heard of this project already? What do you think?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Extra Super Butchie!

Winner, winner chicken dinner!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to those of you who voted and to Kittykill for hosting that super fun Altered Photo Challenge on Craftster. I really enjoyed this project because I loved that dog and this picture so much, winning was the cherry on top.


Thursday, March 21, 2013


We hit a little milestone on Sunday, one year with Boswell! It was his "gotcha" day. 

Last year on St. Patrick's Day he came home with us and became part of our family, a lucky day for us both. It's been a bumpy ride with this little guy, let me tell ya. He sure is stubborn for a wee doggie, he definitely has a mind of his own (not to mention "Napoleon complex"). But he's also the sweetest, snuggliest little bugger you'd ever want to know. He's actually asleep under my elbow as I sit here writing this.

Boswell loves everyone he meets, men, women, children, and the feeling is nearly always mutual. People love him. He's a small dog, only 14 pounds, but he doesn't have that shaky nervousness about him. He's a happy, confident, easy going guy. 

He's so chill he even lets me do stupid things like this, hang great big, sparkly shamrocks on him and take his picture, not that he likes it. Notice that he's not looking at me in any of these pictures?

And how he keeps yawning? He was annoyed with me because I was giggling my butt off. But he endured it, he was humors me and I made it worth his while, he was paid in kisses and corned beef.

Here comes my public service announcement, are you ready?

There are so many hundreds, no, thousands of terrific dogs (and cats, meow!) just like Boswell waiting in shelters and in foster homes all over the country. Fancy purebreds and wonderful mutts alike, they are waiting for a forever home where they can live and love and learn and thrive! 
When and if you're in a position to add to your critter family, I urge you to please consider pet adoption from an animal shelter or rescue group. This is a cause close to my heart, and I know many of yours. We animal lovers have to be advocates for our little friends because they don't have a voice of their own. Petfinder is a fantastic resource where you can  begin your search as it pulls information and pet profiles from shelters and rescue groups all over the country. Petfinder lead us to Boswell. 
Lest you might think I've forgotten about my other dog, Lola... oh no, she's just not as patient as Boz, I tried to get a shamrock picture of her too... this was the best I achieved, which I caption as follows:
"Don't even think about it, lady!"

At any rate, we made it a year, yay us! Yay Boz!
Here's to a hundred more!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Velveteen Dream

Top O'the Morning & Happy St. Patrick's Day to you!

I've been a busy bee this week, stitching in every spare moment, trying like heck to get this project done. Why the rush? I dunno... Because I'm a glutton for punishment, because I like a challenge? Maybe I'm just crazy. Sometimes I see embroidery projects as a specific block of time. I can often look at a pattern and guesstimate about how long it might take. I would have said 6-10 hours start to finish on this pattern ... pah! I would have been wrong, it was more like 18-20... but I LOVE the outcome!

This is something I've had in mind for a quite a while, years in fact, since I last stitched on velvet and found it to be such a beautiful background for embroidery. I purchased another finished cotton velvet cushion cover (similar to this one) at Ikea some time ago, and it's been waiting in the wings for its time to shine. 

Since choosing the pattern, I knew I'd want to embroider the whole thing in one color and thought that a soft gold was a perfect contrast to this deep green velvet. I used a lot of floss on this project, five entire skeins of DMC (676 Light Old Gold)! That seems like a lot, but then again, I used all six strands at once because I wanted the knot to be bold, and really stand off the fabric. I did the outlines of the pattern in stem stitch, and the center knots in split stitch, which gives the piece a nice, thick, almost rustic feel.

Getting the pattern onto the fabric was a bit of a challenge, I found some great advice about stitching on velvet and decided to trace the pattern on to tear away embroidery stabilizer, which I found at JoAnn's (make sure to use your coupons, friends, this stuff is pricey!) then basted the pattern onto the cushion before starting the stitching. The stitching itself was easy using the stabilizer, it didn't shift or crinkle at all. My biggest issue seemed to be using all six strands of floss at once, I felt like I was constantly untying knots and re-threading the needle, grr...

After finishing the embroidery, getting the paper off was fairly simple, but delicate work. I just had to go slow and use craft tweezers to pick the little bits of stabilizer from under the stitching taking care not to pull the stitches loose. I took pictures as I went along, and I'll add them to my Flickr photostream if you're interested.

I'm still in the midst of the Outlander series, and loving every moment of it, which I think contributed to my finally getting this project done, Jamie Fraser really lights my... inspiration! Yeah... inspiration, that's the ticket.

So just in time for St. Patrick's Day, I have a lovely new Celtic inspired pillow to decorate our bed, yay decorative pillows!

We don't really "celebrate" St. Paddy's Day, per say, but I'm sure to wear green for a bit of good luck, and making corned beef & cabbage for dinner, one of my favorites! I'm thinking of attempting Irish Soda Bread, too, we'll see. Mainly I plan to take it easy, this was a busy week and I've had a bit of a cold, so I think I'll indulge in a day of lazily catching up on chores and prioritizing my to-do list. That thing has a life of its own and keeps getting bigger by the day, yikes!

How 'bout you guys, anything exciting on the agenda? Do you do anything special for St. Paddy's? 
Do tell!

p.s. Did you see Google's home page today? These little dancers are so cute!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sashiko Rainbow

Today I thought I'd share a recently finished embroidery piece, a new style of stitching I had not tried previously, do you know about Sashiko? It's a Japanese style of embroidery dating to the 1600's, a simple running stitch often used to reinforce points of wear on clothing, or to repair tears and patches. The decorative designs can be quite beautiful, striking and simple in their nature all at once. 

Traditionally, Sashiko is done in thick, white cotton thread on indigo blue fabric, but the kit I used contained pre-printed white cotton and navy thread. It was given to me by the stitchy duo, Katy & Maureen of Sew Lovely Embroidery at a wonderful tea party the ladies hosted, gosh, almost two years ago. Time flies! 

I'm not a terribly traditional person, and bright colors always call to me from my floss box, not surprisingly  a lively rainbow trumped tradition.  

As always, feel free to click & embiggen any of the pictures for a more detailed photo.

I thought the back of the piece was quite pretty as well, I love seeing all these colors come together.

I'm going to mount this piece simply, stretched over canvas, add some hanging hardware and put it on the wall in my guest room, perhaps. 

So there we are, so many pretty rainbows! I've loved them since I was a child, I'm sure I always will. This piece makes me happy.

This is such a simple style of embroidery, I think it'd be great for a beginner, especially if, like mine, the fabric is pre-printed. Then it couldn't be simpler, just grab your colors and go.

Have you done some of this type of embroidery? Do tell, and point me to your Flickr, blog, or wherever I can oogle them. I'd love to see! 

Hope your week is off to a wonderful start!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Super Butchie!

Happy Saturday, Chummies!
Here's one of the secret projects I've been working on recently. I finished up last night and entered my project in the challenge, now I can share, and you can vote! Heehee, only if you want to.

You guys remember my darling, little pal, Butch? You were all ever, so very sweet when he went over the rainbow bridge last year and I shared about our life with him, and saying goodbye. I'll never forget that kindness. Recently, I learned of an embroidery challenge on Craftster and thought this was as good a reason as any to do something fun to memorialize our doggy friend, hence the Altered Photo Needlework Challenge... and Super Butchie!

 Years ago, on a muggy summer evening, we were in our backyard goofing around with our dogs, Lola & Butch, and taking pictures. I was down on the grass at dog-level and they were playing around me, wrastlin' and such. I happened to get a shot of Butch that looked like he was launching himself into the air (in reality he was launching himself at Lola). Once I had uploaded the picture to my computer, I added a little cape with a big, yellow "B"  in MS Paint to amuse myself, and christened him Super Butchie! It's been in our family photos that way ever since. I have another one where he looks like a bucking rodeo beast that I added a little saddle and a tiny cowboy to, but that's another story.

Here's the original photo, and my stitched, altered photo.

Butch did in fact turn out to be a superhero. As you might recall, he fought a long, hard battle with cancer and he was a trooper right to the end. 

A bit of technical info about the project; I printed my photo on Photo-fabric, but the image didn't "stick". I think the printer I used was the wrong sort and the ink just did not adhere to the fabric. I was horrified when I rinsed it, per the instructions, and much the the image detail washed down the drain! After consulting with a friend, and a bit of brainstorming, I decided I'd use that ruined fabric anyway, fill in the image with color pencils, then add embroidery over the top to really alter the look of the original photo quite a bit. It really challenged my ideas of how this project would look in the end. I've taken Super-Butchie in a semi-comic book sort of direction. I still may add a few things before I'm done, but I dunno, I kind of like him it 'as-is', too.

Butch had the craziest fur, it went in every direction and was every known shade of brown, as well as black, silver, white and even some blonde. for this project I used 9 different colors of floss, and made lots of little crazy stitches to represent my fuzzy fella.

So, voting you ask? Why yes, you can, please & thank you!
Right here!

There are some fabulous entries in the challenge, I especially love this one, by Xperimentl, who makes, rad, rad stuffs. It's awesome, and I LOVE rainbows. 

I'm so glad this week is over and it's the weekend, this week seemed to drag on & on. Sean and I are thinking of scooting up the a Celtic Faire this weekend, woowoowoo, men in kilts! If I do I'll be sure to take lots of pictures.

What are you up to this weekend, anything fun? Do tell!


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tea For Me

Evening friends, 
It's so chilly and feels like rain tonight. We need the rain here in Northern California, it's been so dry this winter, and I like rainy evenings so I won't complain if it starts to pour. I'm snug as a bug in a rug with my tea & my kindle. Happy, happy.

Tea... boy howdy, do I love ya. And tea things, I love tea things! Pretty pots and teacups and little spoons. Delicate plates and cozies and creamers and sugar bowls. Vintage linens and embroidered napkins, ooh I'm getting fluttery! I love it all, and have a lot of it. I need a hutch or china cabinet, like this one, or this one, something with some storage and a gang of display space. I miss the glass front cabinet I had in the kitchen of my last house. Since we moved here I have no place for my tea things or my Jadeite collection and most everything has been packed up in the garage. How sad, right? 

 Normally in the evenings I have a big cuppa tea, a giant mug (this one is my favorite) and hang out with my hubby & the dogs. He watches TV and I stitch or surf the web. But tonight I decided to have myself a proper little tea and read for a bit, I'm way behind on my book club reading and I need to catch up. Right now I'm finishing up The Distant Hours, and about to start The Fault In Our Stars. Also, I'm listening to a book on my commute to/from work everyday, or rather a series of books that one of my best friends turned me on to, and to which I'm now helplessly addicted, it's the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I just started Drums of Autumn yesterday, Jamie Fraser. Unf... So many books, so little time.

Anyhoo... this is kind of a rambly post, isn't it? 

I think I'm going to have a tea party soon, I haven't had one in ages and spring is the perfect time. I wish you all lived close enough to come, wouldn't it be great to hang out and have tea? I would love, love, love that.

Ok, I better hit the book, erm, kindle! Times a'wasting.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Watch The Leather, Man

Hi Everyone!
I can't believe we're already into March! I'm working on a few stitchy things that I can't show just yet, things I'm pretty jazzed about, but my projects always seem to take a little longer to complete than I initially estimate. Does that happen to you guys, too? Since I can't show you what I'd planned to, I'm breaking out something I was particularly proud of that I made for my brother for Christmas this year. 

These items were a bit of a departure for me, I've never worked with leather before (well, yes, I have, but that was back when I was a Camp Fire girl, and we just stamped leather strips to make bookmarks, so that doesn't really count) and since I like to make as many of my Christmas gifts by hand as I can for my family and friends, but I struggle with making "guy things" I had to get crafty.

I've been holding on to a stash of  small leather samples that I got from work a few years ago, and this year I finally got to use a few of them to make my brother a suite of small leather goods. 

A simple billfold, hand stitched.
(and some business cards to encourage my super talented, hard working brother to go into business for himself)

A nightstand bowl for the odds & ends a busy dad finds in his pockets at the end of the day.

This bowl was very simple to make, I found a link to a tutorial on Pinterest (naturally). The bowls in the  tutorial are made with felt, but hey, same technique. Just sore-er fingers, stitching leather is hard, yo! I made one of these dresser/nightstand bowls for my sister-in-law too, I made hers in the super soft red leather pictured below.

I made her a pretty little necklace, too, but the picture above isn't very good, here's a better one.

But my favorite thing that I made for Greg was this little journal. I love this wee book, I was tickled with the finished project.

Love it! I used a pretty stone button I had in my button jar and cut a thin strap to keep the journal closed as my brother adds little bits of this & that to it over the course of its life.

The signatures are stitched up, all proper like! I used a medium card stock for the paper so the pages are nice & sturdy for drawing or painting or what have you.

I used this excellent tutorial, and the journal came out perfectly! Not only have I never worked with leather, I've never made a book, so this was a double lesson for me, and I was very happy with the result. I'm very much looking forward to making more of these journals in the future. 

So there you are, a trio of "masculine" handmade gifts! 

I only had to buy one tool (two, if you count the rubber cement used to secure the book pages the leather) to make this trio, this spikey wheel jobbie used to mark even spaces in the leather that I then punched through with my awl. This was a project that was all labor, and practically no moolah. But the labor, oooh, let me tell you, I had practically no feeling in the fingertips of my right hand for two weeks. I found that even though I pre-punched the leather, it was still hard to pull the thick needle through over & over again. Ouch. I wonder if there's a better way...?

So yeah, leather, man! 

p.s. Curious about the title of this post, lookie here. Love that movie. Have seen it waaaay more times than I should admit. :)