Friday, December 30, 2011

What have I done this week?

Have you wondered? Oh I hope so. Well, I haven't been on a tropical holiday. No, instead I have been waiting (not patiently) at home for my local cable provider to come and fix my internet connection. It began with a call to them the day after Christmas asking to again fix a problem they assured me was taken care of a month ago. And yes, they had fixed it then, but it had reverted to the same situation and only they could rectify the problem, which they did for approximately 12 hours and after that I had no internet at all. Great. So you call and within the first 10 seconds you want to bang your head against a wall. First, they suggest you contact them on line - um, yeah, I have a problem with that. Then they tell you that the call may be monitored - WHY??? It takes forever to get to talk to a real live human being! After spending 40 minutes or more (mostly more) on the perpetual phone roulette wheel, if you do get to talk to a person even the most even-keeled customer is going to be cranky and annoyed. (I am not the most even-keeled person, just so you know.)

However the upside of no internet access was that I got to work on several projects. First, I finished another pair of plain stockinette socks.

The yarn is Opal and I like how the green bits kinda looks like trees or a waterfall. (Or maybe lack of internet access has cause me to hallucinate- LOL!)

And I got more blocks sewn up for the 16 patch sawtooth star blocks - or as I call them Carol's Stars. (another delusional moment)

This quilt top should be done in time for Design Wall Monday. Check back.

Additionally there was much cross stitching. The Boughs of Holly is complete and has been whisked off to the framers. And I am having a lot of fun with this LizzieKate Winter Alphabet.

I'm using a lovely 32 count Belfast linen called Ice Blue and DMC floss. There is such a nice feeling of satisfaction when I finish a letter and I love all the different frames around the letters. I will be doing the other seasons of this design.

I also worked on my hand made Christmas presents for my friends, and yes I am aware it is after Christmas, but we all agreed to postpone till after the family festivities were over. So when I found out the deadline had been moved back I do what I always do - I put them aside and ignored them. Fortunately I felt some motivation to work on them yesterday. I will post pictures after they have been gifted.

Tomorrow is New Years Eve - do you make resolutions? Click here - this sums up my philosophy on resolutions.

Happy stitching-
carol fun

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Wishing all of you wonderful people who read my blog the Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest New Year! I wish I could send all of you a card but since I can't I'll send you a picture of the ones I made this year. He reminds me of the decorations of the 50's - my childhood!

Hope this season gives you plenty of wonderful memories!

carol fun

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The stockings are hung...

...and the tree has been trimmed...

... and I am pooped! Every year it seems to take me longer to get these jobs done. Don't get me wrong I love Christmas I just get stressed out trying to do it all, when in fact I'm doing less and less. It does look pretty when you get it up, doesn't it?

Now I showed close ups of the stockings last year (you can look at the Sunday entries for December 2010). They are from my needlepoint period and boy was I ambitious back then. I will say my boys, who are now young men, still love their stockings so I did okay. The tree is a kitchen sink tree - we put lots of different stuff on it. There are lots of colored lights, bubble lights (I remember these from my childhood and my kids love them too). There is a nice helping of Hallmark ornaments including a bunch of light and motion ones that make the tree kinda hum when you plug it in.There are vintage ornaments from my childhood and little sequiny ones my Mom made. And there is a sprinkling of cross stitched pieces too. I want to do more of them in the coming years.

Here is a close up of our tree topper - an angel with two little lambs - all pink and girly and pretty and yes she is crooked at the top of the tree. I need someone taller to come home and straighten her out.

I think I'm done buying gifts. I have some grocery shopping to do tomorrow and then I'll "wrap" gifts on Friday. I don't actually "wrap" them, instead I put the items into fabric bags that I've sewn up from Christmas fabric. We've been doing this for several years and the whole family enjoys it. I've made bags of all sizes and we tie them shut with sparkly pipe cleaners so everything is reusable year after year. I've seen this suggested as a "green" Christmas idea but I do it because it is pretty and it is easy - I like easy.

So now I'm going to sit in my chair and admire my handiwork and do a little stitching. Life is good!

Merry Christmas!
carol fun

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Santas and other Seasonal Stuff for Sunday

I have another 2 Santas to show this Sunday - Viking Santa and Old Man Santa - I know they aren't clever names but its the best I can do at the moment.

I was going for an Eric the Red vibe with this one - bushy red beard and I used bits of a metallic leather to "lace" up his boots. I think the little tree and red bird are a nice touch.

Old Man Santa got a full helping of decorative stitches - long stitch in mohair for the beard, sheared stitch for the fur trim, scotch stitch in 3 different fibers for his robe.

On Friday night I was quite optimistic with my sewing plans and some of them came to fruition. I got the binding on my Flurry quilt and I got the Mary Engelbreit Schnibble quilted but I didn't get any pictures of them yet. And I even got a table runner made for the table in my front foyer. It was a simple disappearing nine patch done with a Christmas line of Basic Grey from a couple of years ago.

I should have taken the picture before I put it on the table but you can see it beneath my Nativity set which is another needlepoint project from years ago.

I stitched this Nativity set when my oldest son was about 1 year old. I wanted a set that wouldn't break if he "played" with it and I loved the look of these figures. They were designed by Polly Carbonari- she did a lot of cross stitch designs too. They have a very simple folk art appearance that looks like a child might have drawn them.

I stitched these up using wool, perle cotton and metallic threads with everything outlined in a black perle cotton. Joseph has a dimensional beard. Mary and the baby Jesus are done very simply.

Here are the shepherds and the camel that the three wise men brought.

And these are the three wise men with the donkey that Mary rode.

Now there is one thing about this set that makes me shake my head every year when I put it out -how come the camel is pointing in the opposite direction of the wise men? I always want to put the camel near the wise men but somehow it never looks right. Oh well, I just chalk it up to the charm of the set.

Friday night I was quite productive, followed by Saturday where I got nothing done! Is that cosmic payback? I didn't feel well all day and just vegged. Today I did get a few things done - grocery shopping and I worked on my Christmas cards. I can't believe how fast Christmas is approaching. December really should have more days in it.

Here's hoping we all have a very productive week ahead!
Happy stitching-
carol fun

Friday, December 16, 2011

Some Christmas-y finishes for Friday

Another week has blown by me, I really need to pay closer attention. However, I did get a few things accomplished. Want to see my boys' bathroom? I spent about 3 hours cleaning it. No - I didn't think so. What about some Christmas-y stuff? This is little grouping hangs on the wall in my breakfast nook.

The dishes are Debbie Mumm plates from years ago. Does anyone else remember when she had sets of 4 plates in tons of different designs? I was so hooked on them. I have quite a collection. I think I could probably do dessert for about 60 people and they'd all have a different plate.

This is one of my favorite Christmas sets - each one a little topiary - and I've added some greenery and berries and a couple of cute gingerbread guys.

And you can see that I finished the Bent Creek Quaker Noel Sampler. I love the framing. on this one. I've done several of these Bent Creek pieces and usually they are framed quite close to the stitching. Beverly, the framer at Joanns who I love, suggested this spacing and I will be doing this again. It really makes it a more substantial piece.

Here are some close ups - I had to stand on a chair to take these since it was up on the wall and I didn't want to take it down, since I would have to get someone taller than me to put it back up and he is holed up in his room playing video games - oh well - he is quite a big help to me.

Instead of the grey the chart called for I used 2 different reds, 2 different greens and 2 different golds - all overdyed flosses from my stash. I think it looks very Christmas-y.

And I took a couple of minutes to refresh my bedraggled front door wreaths. I think the last time I spruced them up was about 8 years ago. I tore off the faded poinsettias and added some nice candy cane ribbon, some sparkly mylar bows in the center and some sugared berries. Total cost - about $7 for 2 wreaths - and it shows up nice from the street too.

Tonight I'm going to hunker down behind my sewing machine and get the binding on my Flurry quilt and hopefully quilt the little Mary Engelbreit Schnibble too. And I want to make a new table runner for the front foyer -- wow I am being quite the optimist. Check back to see how much I actually get done.

Happy stitching-
carol fun

Monday, December 12, 2011

A little progress for Design Wall Monday

I got another block or two done on this quilt - no name for it yet and calling the blocks 16 patch sawtooth stars is accurate but a little wordy. They need a catchy name - checkerboard stars or Carol's stars -- ok that's a bit presumptuous - LOL!

This layout will need 13 blocks and I have 6 stitched. I have all the parts for the other 7 cut out and ready to go. Too bad there are lots of other things I need to do - laundry, ironing, cleaning - yuck!

I do like these big scale florals- very pretty! However, this is no longer a free quilt- insert hanging head in shame - ok that's enough. I realized that if I wanted the sashing and the edge triangles for this quilt to be scrappy (and I do) that I need some larger cuts of tone on tone yellows. I have lots of little pieces but very few big cuts left in my stash. So I picked up a few at Joanns (on sale) and at Fabric Shack.

I am very pleased with these additions to my collection. In walking around Fabric Shack looking for yellow fabrics I again saw how few yellows are available. Now it is better than back in the 80's but still yellow is the step-child color in the quilting world. I know lots of people think yellow is hard to work with but in my opinion it is a great addition to any quilt. A little ray of sunshine! In looking at the many quilts I've made over the years, there are very few that don't have yellow or gold in them. I love it as a background, I love it as the focus. It has always been my favorite color. I remember in my teen years when my mother let me paint my room any color I wanted - it was yellow. And in my first apartment, I couldn't paint the walls so I bought a yellow rug and had a yellow bedspread (this was my pre-quilting days). In one of my first houses I bought a yellow linoleum for the kitchen. I never stray far from yellow. I tease my boys (but I am serious) that when my days on this earth are over I want them to cremate me and put my ashes in a pretty yellow vase- I'll be very happy there!

Happy stitching-
carol fun

A belated Santas for Sunday... and gushing about White Christmas

I fully intended to post this yesterday but instead I fell asleep in my recliner right after dinner and that's the last thing I remember till this morning. I must have gone upstairs to bed since that is where I woke up - boy was I tired! So better late than never, more Santas!

I call the one on the left the rustic Santa and the one on the right is my White Christmas Santa. White Christmas is my favorite Christmas movie - heck it is my all-around, any time favorite movie. The costumes, the music, the dance numbers.... more about that in a minute.

Again in true Liberace fashion this guy has a lot going on. The fur on the cap and the edge of the robe is an angora that I roughed up with a little wire brush. I used an overdyed wool for the coat. The ribbon on the wreath is a metallic that I couched to give it a 3-D effect. You can just barely see the metallic shoe laces tied in a bow - boy I had some pretty good fine motor skills back then.

I can't believe I did that many french knots for his beard. I must have been nuts (oh wait, I am - LOL)

This is my favorite Santa - not because he is the most elaborate by any means, but because he reminds me of Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in the finale of White Christmas.

I don't remember what they called the fiber I used for the beard but it is like cellophane twisted on a cotton core.

The fur trim was a looped stitch that I sheared and the suit is backstitched in a red metallic thread. Simple, yet festive!

Getting back to White Christmas the movie - oh how I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Saturday morning I had the opportunity to see the movie at a theater on a big screen. I've never seen it this way before. It has always been a staple of my Christmas traditions. The first time I saw it was a Saturday night in my teens when I was babysitting for the triplets from Hell - ok maybe not Hell, but somewhere in that vicinity. These boys wore me out and the parents forgot to tell me that one of them was prone to sleep walk -- he scared the bejesus out of me. My reward for this night along with the 50 cents an hour they were paying me was to watch White Christmas.

Seeing it on the big screen was an eye opener in many ways. First the colors were waaay more intense than it is on TV or a DVD. In one of the early scenes, Rosemary Clooney is wearing a blue dress with a wonderful tulle wrap - it looks blue on my computer- on the screen it was a stunning periwinkle. Gorgeous! Later in the movie she is wearing a velvet dress that I always thought was black, in reality it is a dark forest green.

Edith Head was the costume designer for this film and she did a fantastic job. I always loved that the shoes matched the outfit in all the scenes. Danny Kaye has the most beautiful grey suede shoes that match his suit. I read somewhere that it was his idea to do this so that there was a seamless line when he danced. And there is a rehearsal scene where Vera-Ellen is dancing in a yummy chartreuse little outfit with a turtleneck, a twirly skirt and velvet banding around the waist and her dance shoes are chartreuse too! Perfect!!

This film is also dear to my heart because it has lots of Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky connections which is where I grew up and now live. Rosemary Clooney (George's aunt and the mother of Miguel Ferrer) is from Maysville, KY, just down the river a piece. She retired there and is buried there. Vera-Ellen was from Norwood, OH a suburb of Cincinnati. Norwood is close to my heart too. My oldest son did a internship there and loved it. George Chakiris is also from Norwood and is going to be in town tomorrow to honor the movie and the Rosemary Clooney museum down in Augusta, KY. Lots of hometown pride here!

After the film ended on Saturday I said to my niece, if the started it over right now I'd sit and watch it again. Instead I went home and watched it on DVD. This time I watched the version with commentary overlayed by Rosemary Clooney. It was so good - nice, light, little asides and stories - and at then end she says "I just LOVE it, can we watch it again?" - a woman after my own heart.

May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white!

carol fun

Friday, December 9, 2011

A finish for Friday .....

but not mine! Oh well -- isn't this a fun quilt? My friend Laurey did this one and I just love it.

In fact I love it so much I'm going to make one of my own and today I went out and bought that exact same border fabric at Joann's - its a Susan Winget.

Now I don't know the name of this pattern (Laurey if you read this email me the name, please-- thank you) but as Laurey explained it there was a pattern you traced on freezer paper, then you stacked your fabrics and after you cut them you shuffled them and after they were sewn together you squared them up. Sounds easy and fun. Now I know I won't get it done this season (ahem... I still need to get the binding on my Flurry quilt -- its on my to do list for this weekend, really it is) but I'll be happy I have that border fabric when the time comes.

I haven't finished this cross stitch, but I have made progress.

All the leaves are done except for the long stitched veins. And don't you like how erratic my stitching is on the snowguy -- crafty ADHD at its finest. Actually I do it that way on purpose so the overdyed floss comes out kinda blotchy and mottled instead of streaky. I needed to pick up a skein of Weeks Onyx to do the birds on this piece and it only cost me $20 -- yeah that does seem pricey for one skein of floss but other friends had to come home with it, among them were...

these 2 Prairie Schooler Santas - quilty and cross stitch.

and the Winter Alphabet from Lizzy & Kate. I want to do all of these so I'm starting with Winter and maybe I'll get it done before Spring is sprung.

Also I picked up this new to me floss at Fabric Shack in Waynesville, OH.

It is called Cosmo and is from Lecien Corp. It is 6 strand floss. The shop also had some other thread that was heavier ply - packaged on a spool - for embroidery. Lots of beautiful colors. The owner said she had several requests for it and that lots of the designers were using it. It is nice to see new things coming to the shops.

So I have lots of things to keep me busy. I haven't done much decorating. I'm stalling till next weekend since I know my tree will be up till the middle of January and a month of Christmas is sufficient for me. My oldest son's birthday is the middle of January and he always begs me to leave the tree up till then, and I do.

Hope your weekend is wonderful!
Happy stitching!
carol fun

Monday, December 5, 2011

Block Arrangement by Big Dude for Design Wall Monday

On Sunday I remembered I had a bunch of little blocks done for a Schnibble made with Mary Engelbreit Christmas fabric and thought it would be a nice fresh new decoration for this season. I got them out, squared them up and laid them out on my table to sew them together - and then Big Dude came to keep me company.

Ahem - Big Dude, your big rump is obscuring my layout. Now we are blessed to live in a very spacious home - there are 4 bedrooms, 3 large couches and more than a half a dozen cushy chairs where one could park one's butt and take a snooze, but I have obviously misjudged the comfort of a formica table with quilt blocks on it! By the time I liberated parts of several rows I wasn't sure exactly how I had laid out the blocks but decided to just go for it.

So this is my State Fair Schnibble done in the ME fabric line from a couple of years ago called The Caroler. I ended up doing 3/4" finished sashing and using cornerstones since my points weren't coming together well. The borders aren't attached yet. I'll get to it tomorrow. I'll be doing some very simple quilting on this and then I plan to drape it over the end of a bookcase and arrange a little Christmas vignette -oh aren't I the stylish one? LOL

I did get all the pieces cut out for the blocks for the big scale floral blocks I showed on Friday - it took longer than I thought and I realized that while I have a lot of yellow stash most of my pieces are small and I will be needing some larger chunks to do the setting triangle for this quilt. Oh no! It may not be free after all - I may have to purchase some more yellows - horrors! Oh well, I'm sure I'll get over it quickly.

Have a good week - yesterday it rained, today it is raining and tomorrow it is suppose to rain too -- a very soggy start to the week, but a good excuse to stay inside and sew!
Happy stitching-
carol fun

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Santas for Sunday

December??? How did it get to be December already? So far, the only Christmas decorations I've put out are the sorry looking wreaths on my front door. I need to redo them this week. However I did want to bring a little holiday spirit to my blog so for this month I will be showing some needlework from long long ago-- my needlepoint period of 20 years ago. I stitched these up for a needlepoint shop I taught at back in the late 80's. I did about a dozen of these little guys, sort of in the style of the Prairie Schooler Santas,

I think the one on the left is St. Nicholas and the one of the right is a bit of an old fashioned Santa. Each of these Santas stands about 6" high and is about 2" around at the base. A professional seamstress did the cording and the finishing and her
work is beautiful. I chose different decorative stitches and fibers for each one along with a different darning stitch pattern for the background of each Santa. The background stitches are done in ecru perle cotton.

All the sparkly shiny fibers are hard to photograph along with the fact that these are curved figures that stand. I took a couple of close up shots that let you see the stitches more clearly.

I used a ton of different fibers - wools, DMC, perle cotton, metallic braid and fibers that I can't remember what they are called.

These were stitched on 18 count needlepoint canvas. Oh I just remember what the shiny stuff was called - Marlitt. I still have a huge box of these fibers in my storage room.

I also used seed beads and the fur is wool that was stitched in loops and then I cut and shaped it. My oldest son refers to these guys as my Liberace Santas and he has a point. At the time the shop wanted me to use as many different fibers as I could and boy did I. I put together graphs with the stitches and fibers and taught it as a class. Needlepoint has gotten outrageously expensive these days. I looked at prices of hand painted canvas and was stunned. Some are going for hundreds of dollars. Along with teaching the classes I use to paint canvas for the shop too, and I never got a lot of money for it. I would paint names on stockings for stitchers - graphing it out so it was perfectly centered and picking alphabets that were in the same style as the stocking. I got paid about 50 cents a letter - oh those were the days.

Well I hope to get some Christmas decorations out this week, but first I need to put away the Fall stuff. I could use somee minions to do the heavy lifting - LOL!

Have a great week-
carol fun