23 February 2018

Lowland Snow 2018

For most people snow is just a big nuisance and I understand that. It IS a nuisance, especially if you have to navigate on icy, snow covered, roads. In our county many of the roads are private, ergo, plowing is the responsibility of the owner/owners. That's more than a nuisance! It's hard, cold, work!
I love snow...at least I do when I can stay safe and warm at home! I love the beauty of a snow covered landscape. Snow reminds me of my New England roots and the fun of sledding, skating, snow-man-building and angels-in-the-snow (which I still enjoy). When I see snow it is like my psyche takes a deep sigh of enjoyment.

Where I live snow has become relatively uncommon, so when it happens I like to go out and have a look at nature's work. It won't last long, but long enough to upset work and school plans I am sure. We have more flurries today, but temperatures are already on the rise, but low nighttime temperatures will make for dicey morning drives. Then, in the blink of an eye, the snow will be gone. Daffodils, crocus and hyacinths will be brightening fields and yards and we will be celebrating the natural glories of Spring.

So just for a couple of days I am going to enjoy the snow, watching the bird feeders ("my" Flickers are back!) and kicking back to enjoy another small slice of a delicious lemon-curd filled buttermilk cake I made yesterday! (the recipe came from The Seattle Times and called for Myers Lemons but I used regular ones)...it is an excellent recipe!

Whatever weather you prefer and are currently enjoying, take some time to enjoy nature's amazing, incomparable beauty today.

PS: I finally a knit brocade dress last week. No photo yet. I started it more than a year ago and made all kinds of hideous mistakes since it was my first "make" from a very stretchy fabric. I had to figure out how to make it useable and not waste the relatively pricey fabric. Now, it is a basic, but comfortable and wearable dress.

PPS: Hand work seems to prevail right now. Two very different styles..


08 February 2018

A Monthly Club Solid Fabrics

Just a quick shout out for Island Quilter. I want/need to build up my stash of solids..but was not sure if Konas were what I wanted. As it turns out, aside from being the premiere source for Kaffe Fassett et al fabrics, Island Quilter also offer a solids club. I joined it and get 5 luscious half yards of Free Spirit solids (imho they have a nicer hand than Kona) per month for a mere $17.49 (with domestic usa shipping the total is $21.99). While I am working this makes a lovely, useful and affordable, gift to myself. These fabrics will make some projects that I have in mind more easily possible. I may even consider yards rather than half yards. Anyway, I was so happy to find this great opportunity!

I hope to finish my colorful squares bag this weekend. I have auditioned background fabrics for front and back and will add quilting and embroidery to both sides. I got the idea for this from a Sue Spargo kit. I could not afford the kit but have managed to make something similar. It will end up being about 10"X15". The squares for the front are 4" finished. Next time I will scale the whole size back to make a smaller, and for me, more usable size.....maybe 3" squares. I am having fun with some smaller, and quicker, projects lately.

Work has changed my energy reserves and I am still adjusting, but the peace of mind that comes with knowing that I can afford my monthly bills without running up more "deferred" plastic bills (plus being able to have a treat or two) is such a good feeling. I truly enjoy and respect the veterinarian that I work for and I get to see so many great animals every day. I am so very grateful for the job and I hope that I will pass muster and be able to work there for a long time. I also figure that having to multi-task, and learn a new PC based computer program is great brain exercise (with Macs I don't need to consider "F" keys and right it left clicks...so that's an exercise in itself!). I know that age discrimination is not supposed to happen, but I swear that it can and does come into play....if not explicitly mentioned.

It has been a good week so far. My miracle worker hair stylist lopped off 1.5" of my hair and it looks so much better. I am really enjoying having my hair long again...it feels more comfortable to me. Awful image but it's the hair not the bare naked face!

Wishing everyone a great, colorful weekend!


01 February 2018

Slow Sewing & Winter Pursuits

Yep. It has been dank, dark and dreary. Typical winter weather for those of us lucky enough to live near the Canadian border in the great Pacific Northwest. Although the webs on our feet are growing as the rain continues to fall, I count us lucky when I consider the brutal winter that many people are experiencing this year
It has been a woefully long time since I have swung by this blog. Somehow I always have it in mind that a social media presence, short and sweet, is what many people prefer these days, but I am also gently reminded that some people still prefer the written word and blog posts, and also that some people just don't care to "log on" to social media platforms. I'll say right now that I hope to rectify my blogging short-comings....and then I will hope that I really will!
My Winter sewing plans have been slowed just a bit. In late October I happily accepted a two-day-a-week job offer. With that acceptance, another circle has closed in my life because I had worked for the same amazing veterinarian nearly 25 years ago. Poor financial planning when I was younger meant that I needed the peace of mind that having a little extra income brings. Costs keep rising while income doesn't keep up and so a part-time job seemed like a prudent answer to the dilemma. I am grateful that I am still limber enough in body and mind that I can work a bit! I can't think of any better job match for me....I work with people that I like and respect, I get to see myriad wonderful 4-leggeds every day and my work days are so busy that the time flies by. I am righteously exhausted at the end of the day. I have decided that learning a new, PC based (I use Macs) computer program was great exercise for my grey matter too...and yes, I do think that I learn a bit more slowly now....sad but true...but learning and multi-tasking feel like positive brain exercises!
Tilly has been snuggling in for longer winter naps.
The bright bits of patchwork in the photo above are my antidote to the sullen, swollen, dark skies. There are a few more squares in process and they will become a "happy" purse or bag of one sort or another.
Hand embroidery has become my latest compulsion...or maybe I am just revisiting it with more enthusiasm. I have always enjoyed hand work. I prefer hand appliqué, I enjoy exploring the possibilities of new threads and I am thoroughly enjoying doing more hand embroidery
I haven't done much embroidery lately, though I always enjoyed using a variety of threads for embellishment. For some reason though I have become enamoured with embroidery. I have a million ideas for small art quilts running through my mind, but I decided that I needed/wanted to hone my basic embroidery stitch skills by working on designs by Kathy Schmitz, author of the delightful books "Stitches From The Garden" and "Stitches From The Harvest". She also offers a fun monthly stitch pattern "club". A new design every month for a mere $2.00!

My all time favorite hand work threads are usually 12 wt...I use them for machine quilting as well hand work. I am especially fond of Sulky 12wt 'Petites' in solids and variegated. Offered on small spools as well as larger ones they are a bargain and offer endless design possibilities.

Wonderfil brand threads are another of my "go-to" brands for embellishment threads. My favorites include their ah!mazing 'Konfetti' (super lustrous, strong, all cotton, thread for piecing, their Eleganza 8wt (and the throughly addicting Sue Spargo range of Eleganza 8wt &Tutti threads), as well as a passel of their heavier weight threads like Mirage, Razzel & Dazzle for couching and more. Of course I also love and use fantastic Aurifil and Superior threads too.

I am covetous of getting some Aurifil 12wt (offered on both large and small spools too). Aurifil also offers the best palette of greys around! Their threads are truly lovely exceptional! Superior Masterpiece cotton is also one of my "go-to" threads (I use the cones) for much of my everyday sewing. Aurifil seems to concentrate on cotton threads while Superior offers a, well, a superior, selection of polyester and rayon threads for a wide variety of sewing specialities. When it comes down to it, I just really love and enjoy thread! It is, after all, the painters palette for textile artists.

Worked on linen the embroidery below is destined to become a pillow...one that will support my hand-work as I stitch.The back of the pillow will be fashioned with a pocket or two so that it will be extra functional for sewing projects.

My latest big splurge was investing in some Oakshott cottons from England. Shot cottons have been a favorite of mine for some time. I enjoy using Kaffe Fassett's lightweight shot cottons as well as the somewhat heavier Peppered Cottons from Pepper Cory & Studio E. Oakshott's cottons are super lustrous and look more like silk than cotton to me. Weight-wise they are more similar to Peppered Cottons but have a slightly better drape...making them slightly better for making clothing.
Speaking of clothing I have made a couple of my favorite simple dresses lately (one from a luscious Daiwabo Woven cotton) but the weather has been too wet and dank to take any photos...

Look at that shine on these Oakshott cottons!

I found these patterns from Kathy Schmitz irresistible ....though I did a bit of changing up. I wanted a sewing kit with a zippered inside pocket to hold my basic supplies of thimble, under thimble, needles, wax etc. When I first looked at Kathy's pattern I thought that it included a zippered pocket, but it didn't so I added one. To my mind, the pocket helps immeasurably, to make this a more functional sewing kit. It is lightly quilted... one of these has an applied twisted cording around the edge and the other has a very small rick-rac edge.
I also added the simple spool holder...
because one must a spool of thread in a sewing kit!
You may notice the round thing on my scissors..it is a "zinger". They are used by fly fishermen. It clips (if you look look for one they also have pin on versions, but I have found the clip in to be better) onto my shirt/top and features a retractable line that keeps my scissors available at all times. I got tired of always losing them down the sides of chairs, or falling on the floor....it is a very handy gadget!
I also made some embroidered needle minders...again from Kathy Schmitz.
They have a strong magnet hidden inside inside a Dritz 1 7/8" covered button. I used a larger than suggested rare earth magnet. They work really well! Adding a little more peace of mind in my continuing, slightly neurotic, attempts to keep any and all pins, needles and thread pieces away from the inquiring reaches of my beloved Tilly.

My projects thus far this winter have been so enjoyable! I decided, as I adjust to working, to not worry about the words "finish" or "produce". I am taking great pleasure in the process; knowing that they will all get finished in the end. I don't generally have too many UFO's, but right now I still have my appliqué quilt to finish; I am sooo close except for the appliquéd border. My "potato chip" (pieced Hexagons) quilt needs to be laid out and sewn together and I have several dresses in the queue for Spring and Summer. I am so grateful to have had sewing and threads in my life!

What have you been up to this Winter?

Do you always enjoy the process or do you look towards the finish line for your projects?

Have you been exploring new things? What? I'd to hear!