Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Feed the Birds: a journal quilt

     The snow falls, night and day, but birds are abundant. The bushes by my front porch are filled with puffed up feathered friends. The bushes look like snow cones; and birds are under the snow canopy, chirping in chorus for food.
      My grandchildren painted a birdhouse for Mother's Day and gave me a bag of seeds. I am not informed about bird needs. However, when I wondered why these sparrows and chickadees didn't fly south and I could not imagine where they were getting food, I started sprinkling my seeds on one side of the front porch. Surely my comfort food of seeds and bread crumbs couldn't hurt.

       Nancy, bird guru and beader, said that some of these birds have evolved to extend their world, staying in the cold north to feed on berries and seeds they have cached. But with all this covering of snow it is good to supplement. Chrissy has a heated bird bath. I have tried to take the birds' photos but they are wary of predators, my dog and family's watching through the window.
       I will sew on some yellow and gold seed beads for these fabric feathered creatures in my journal quilt, and then get some real seeds and bread to feed those sparrows, chickadees and blue birds. I read the little ones need more than the larger birds when it is so cold.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Valentines stuffed: Hearts and crafts for a very cold day

(Click all photos to enlarge)


      When I go to New York City, I love to drop by Purl Soho and The City Quilter to collect ideas and good fabrics. The other day I Googled something like stuffed fabric Valentines, checked Images and may have added blog to the search words. I found a variety of hearts and thought I would start off with what looked like the simplest. Nothing is simple, I always find out! The Purl Bee site offered my first effort and Molly's instructions are super:  Thrill yourself with other ideas at this site.

       As an elementary school student I was permanently impressed by the idea of assembly lines. And as you can tell by my photos, I cut out lots of hearts to sew and opened DMC floss to cut both ends of the opened loops to create 18" threads for my embroidery needle making sure the eye was big enough for the thread and the point sharp enough to penetrate the felt.  I used pinking shears, a sturdy needle threader and stuffing. I found I could make these hearts in 10 minutes, stuffed, with safety pin attached from the one 18"thread. There will be enough string left for some x0x0's and I (heart) U. Wish I still had an elementary school student who would enjoy passing them out to classmates. I watched old movies while I stitched this coldest day in years in Boston. Abby taught me it is also good to listen to, craft podcasts, while I work.

    The last big snow day I cooked ebelskivers, filled with dollops of applesauce, but I was more restrained today. The are deliciously puffed and stuffed as well!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Valentine Birthday Duds for Erika and her 18-inch doll

click to enlarge
      Erika said she wanted me to make her a Valentine dress for her birthday. Last summer I made her a sundress that only involved one stitch from top to bottom, maybe simple straps added at the shoulders. This project was more effort.

        At  Barnes and Noble I found All Dolled Up, a book about sewing clothes and accessories for girls and their 18-inch dolls. The patterns seemed simple enough and Joe insisted I get the book. I worked steadily to finish the two fleece vest, hats, and scarfs in a couple of days. Fleece was easy to sew with a new needle (Universal, 12/80). To get the right separating zipper color, I had to purchase two zippers that were too long, cut them at the top, pull the teeth at the end with pliers and sew stoppers.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

After the Plague: a journal quilt

  The 18th through the 20th of December was a fine early Christmas celebration at our house. The day afterwards, despite having gotten the flu shot (I try to be first in line, I am such a believer), I came down with a non-bacterial bug that lasted 2 1/2 weeks. Along with that enervating problem, bronchitis, I had pills for some minor double skin surgery and wounds to heal. I don't suppose I thought it was "the end," but when I finally got well, I was so overcome with gratitude that the entire world was Spring again. I loved and appreciated breathing, walking and looking...just being alive, often what is so easy to take for granted. Thus, I sewed in the journal quilt, the black shade's being lifted on the short dark window of my life...a special memorable incident!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Going to the Dogs: Embroidering with granddaughter


   I believe I am entering a second childhood, going back to some of my first crafts as a beginner, in this case, embroidery. Never humble enough to take beginning lessons, I usually plunged in to figure out how to do something as I went. Now I am intriqued by more depth. I love to draw and that is what embroidery is. The portrait possibilities are exciting me...the textures and embellishment.

Click to enlarge photos
   Six-year-old Hannah dove right into her Christmas embroidery sewing materials, drawing her own designs or going free form; whereas I was timid and copied a dog pattern and technique from Craft-In, a compilation of 12 craft projects I read about at Hannah liked perle cotton and I used two strands of embroidery floss, mostly backstitches or split stitches. We used 5" hoops. Whereas I was on cotton, my granddaughter had linen of course! We can go beyond these pieces, using both familiar, new and invented stitches to decorate clothing, add fireworks in the back ground, finish with beads to add whatever lines come into our minds.
   Santa also gave Hannah a Klutz book, Simple Embroidery that she has used at home to create projects which I am eager to see. Her Kid's Embroidery by Nicholas has even more projects for us kids of all ages!
    Note: What I learned from the practice effort above, was to to take smaller more careful stitches when I get to portraits. I am also wanting to make a contemporary linen sampler for Hannah should she be interested, and have been looking at the old ones in our history. Besides an alphabet, there is usually a picture and a line of poetry or a wise saying. I love what my grandmother wrote in my wedding Bible: "May your life be a blessing."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Journal Quilt wish: Peace in 2011

Missing spoke belatedly added
     If you have visited my Journal Quilt site at my webpage, then you know the following: These quilt journals are sketches. They relate to a memorable event in a week. Whereas thinking of the ideas may take awhile, the crafting or stitchery should consume about 2 hours so that one will continue!
Peace Wish 2011

    This is not a steering wheel but my quickly rendered peace sign, always wishing for peace on earth, good will to all men at the beginning of the new year. Yesterday, we watched a sobering award winning movie Jean loaned me called Why We Fight. I have also Googled "peace quotations" which I recommend.  Peace has not been achieved. Therefore this journal quilt is a break with tradition. It is a WISH for such a memorable event.
    It was pleasant to sit at the piano to play some Christmas carols, today, before all is put away. I am always moved to play an adaptation of Longfellow's words:
I heard the bells on Christmas day,
Their old familiar carols play,  
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as now this day had come  
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rung so long the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.....

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor does He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”