Monday, January 21, 2008

The Winter Blahs

I'm definitely feeling blah today. Maybe it is because I started out the morning doing homework, which was a not so thrilling reading of Jacques Lacan's "The Mirror Stage" for a class on cultural studies. I have to prepare a guide to Lacan's essay but I have difficulty understanding it myself, so that makes for a bit of work.

I looked up more embroidery stitches and managed to embroider two silk roses on my TIF challenge block and decided that was all the challenge I could handle for the moment. Yesterday, I finished Pot Purri, designed by Margaret Sherry.

I was contemplating framing this but I have another of the cat designs completed with many more waiting to be begun and now I am thinking I could make them into a wall hanging once I've completed several more. At the rate I'm going, that should only take me another eight years or so. I recently joined a Margaret Sherry stitching group on Yahoo and found out that she will no longer be working with Heritage Stitchcraft. They have discontinued her designs, as they state on their website. It sounds as though she will continue to design, just not with HS. I keep wishing she would design some roly-poly goats for cross stitch.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Take it Further Challenge January-2

I've made slow progress embellishing my CQ block. This is due, in part, to having minimal embroidery skills upon joining this challenge (i.e. only the cross stitch and French knot). I've been looking at Sharon B's Stitch Dictionary and it has been a great help in adding to my abilities and knowledge. I have to say that I'm really enjoying learning embroidery and feel quite satisfied with myself each time I master a new stitch.

I added a bit of lace and embroidered some daisies in the lower left corner and then the block sat there for quite some time as I tried to figure out how to transfer the goat design I drew to the center block and how to stitch it. I finally decided to use a transfer pencil and ironed my design onto the fabric. This worked quite well. I then (finally!) mastered the stem stitch enough to be able to embroider the design. I don't know why but stem stitch was boggling my mind for a while.

About the block:
My block is meant to represent someone I admire, my mother, and I chose the goat as her emblem. She has been raising goats for about 26 years now and originally acquired them because I had a sensitivity to cow's milk but no problems with goat milk. Since then, goats have become her life. She lead 4-H programs I was involved in which were related to goats. She has taken them to shows, she has them registered, has a careful breeding program, records their milk production, makes cheese and soap, and is the go-to woman whenever someone has a question about their goat(s). This particular goat is a Nubian which is her preferred breed for their personality and milk production.

I am also focusing on embroidering flowers on the block because 1. she is an avid flower gardener and 2. no CQ block is complete without them. She receives compliments every year from friends, family and even complete strangers who stop by to tell her how lovely her garden looks.

I bought some silk ribbon and hope to learn a little about it so that I can begin to add that embroidery to the block as well.

Thanks to everyone for your comments and encouragement, I've really appreciated them!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Back to the Grind

We managed to cook dinner for friends from Mexico over the weekend and had a really nice time. They've offered to help me practice my Spanish. I also took a trip to a very nice little cross stitch shop I discovered by the school Lucas teaches at! It is called Moore Stitches and it had everything and more than I could want. I walked away with a few charts (Brittercup, By the Bay Needleart, and Prairie Schooler), some silk embroidery ribbon for my CQ block, and a bit of lovely thread. I will definitely be returning (especially since it completely escaped my mind to buy any fabric to stitch on!). I also took an intarsia class and made a (lopsided) heart.

I definitely need to practice before I take on any intarsia projects I've been planning. I am thinking that I'll keep making these squares with hearts in them and maybe sew them into a baby block or a teddy bear sweater. Then, of course, I'd have to learn to make the bear.

I also had a friend and colleague, Yuka, over for some knitting. I rarely get to knit with friends and don't have any quilting friends in the area, so it is very exciting to me when I get to share my passions with friends! I got her started on the rolled brim hat but she didn't have the right needles so we'll have to try again soon. While we knitted, I finished the rolled brim hat I'll be giving my mom for her birthday in September.

Yuka was very generous and brought me a gift when she came to knit, a gift I had been wishing for...a mold to make onigiri.

Onigiri has been a favorite of mine ever since one of my college roommates returned from her year abroad in Japan and started making it for us. It is rice with a filling inside (tuna, salmon, chicken, etc) and the rice triangle or circle is then wrapped up with a bit of seaweed. When Lucas was studying in Taiwan, I went to visit him for a week and I wanted to eat onigiri at the 7-11 everyday. By the way, 7-11 is way better in Asia than in the U.S.! I wish we had their 7-11's.

I finally got the baby quilt top put together! I debated for quite a while about adding the red borders but in the end, decided I liked it better this way. I'm excited to get quilting on it.

I have intended to work on my crazy quilt block and did manage to get a little embroidery done. I was really excited about how easy it was to learn some of the stitches. Now I need to get brave and put some serious work into it!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

In Reference to Previous Post

I realized that the links I provided in my previous post did not appear as links nor were they fully viewable. Here they are again in case anyone wants to learn more about crazy quilting. I am sure there are other great resources on the Internet on CQ. If anyone wants to leave a comment with recommendations, I'd love to hear about them.

I know there is at least one Yahoo group on Crazy Quilting which I belong to, though I have not had much time to use it or post on it (blush).

Sharon B's stitch dictionary which links to her blog
Annie Whitsead's tutorial
Leslie Levison's online class is here

Monday, January 07, 2008

Take It Further Challenge Unembellished CQ Block 1

Here is my first crazy quilt block ever. It was more difficult to make than I anticipated because I didn't line up the seams well. I had a really nice pattern drawn on the back of the muslin but it was not easy to follow. There are a few uncovered spots of muslin but I'm not terribly concerned about them...I know I can find something to cover them up with. I spent some time reminding myself to give me a break, this is my first block, after all. And this is a challenge!

I've used the challenge colors as my fabric choices and now I have to determine what to cover them with. I'm still contemplating trying to embroider a goat that I drew and place it in the center. I spent some time today looking in my ribbon and embroidery books but neither of them explained precisely how one transfers an embroidered design after it has been cut from the original fabric to another piece of fabric. I browsed through some of the other challenge participants' blogs to see if other embroiderers posted on this subject and found Cheryl's Chatelaine. She describes using quilting paper in this post, which I just happen to have purchased while back in Michigan. I may consider her technique for this project or an upcoming CQ block for the challenge.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Big Bad Baby Quilt

As I mentioned in a previous post, I discovered that I had not understood the directions for the quilt I was making. The pinwheel quilt turned into a bunch of rather uninteresting squares inside of squares that I have laboriously sewn together over the past two days. I'm pretty disappointed with how it has turned out and wonder how I went to all this trouble only to end up with a rather uninteresting quilt. I also have a lot of left over blocks to throw into a bin until something can be done with them. My options at this point are

1. Sew all the squares together as seen here. I don't have a design wall, so instead, I guess I have a design floor.

2. Add this red fabric border. I went fabric shopping today to find something to spruce it up. I don't really love the color combination but I having the contrast might be better.
My husband, Lucas, votes for the red borders. Any thoughts?

I guess I am just a little discouraged about how this whole project has turned out and I really want my brother and sister-in-law to like it, as well as my niece, someday. The other thing that is bothering me is that I only have a week of break left, precious little time, and I really want to be working on quilts that I actually feel good about.

On a happier note, I got my fabrics together today for the Take it Further challenge. Tomorrow I plan to get them sewn up and will hopefully have a picture to post. I'm still debating as to what to actually do with my block. One option in the challenge is to somehow render someone you look up to. I'd like to do something with my mom and was thinking about different symbols that represent things I admire about her (she's very creative, has taught herself how to do a number of things, she always encourages creativity in other people, she raises goats and takes very good care of them, and she raised and took good care of me!). For me, the biggest part of this challenge may not be skills, though I could certainly work on that area of my life, but rather, it is letting myself have a good time without worrying about whether what I am doing is "good enough." I have read a few other blogs and other people taking part in the challenge seem to have similar concerns about their skill level compared to others. I hope we can all be challenged to not let our worries keep us from enjoying ourselves and being creative.