Sunday, November 27, 2016

Catching Up

This posting is more than overdue!

This year has not been without challenges and sorrows. It has taken me a while to be able to write about it.

In a year's time, we have lost 3 of our cats,


Hermie enjoying the sunshine

Hermie was a stray. He made up his mind that he was going to live with us, and wouldn't take no for an answer!

He had cancer in his intestines, and also on his face. By the time it was found, it was too late for him.
I feel very bad about him because I think he was in a lot of pain and we didn't know it. Cats are very stoic.

Several months later, McGruff was diagnosed with heart failure. He was a stray who had a very hard life. He had been living outside for quite a while. He was missing teeth and had other health problems. He warmed up to us very quickly, but unfortunately it was some time before we could let him in the house because he always wanted to fight with our cats. We have a cat-door going into our cellar, and he spent about a year coming and going. Finally, he stopped fighting with the cats so we could let him in. Unfortunately, soon after, we lost him.

McGruff, the tough guy
About a month after we lost McGruff, our Furrytail was diagnosed with lung cancer. We made an appointment with the vet to get an ultrasound done on the mass. While we were waiting for the phone call from the vet, to come pick up Furry,  I noticed that Blue had started acting odd, turning in circles. First, I thought he was playing, but I soon realized that something was terribly wrong. We rushed him to the vet, but there was nothing they could do for him. He had to be put down. We have been just reeling from this!

The shy Blue
Our cabinet cat Blue
Blue's death was so unexpected. He was our youngest cat about 8 years old, also a stray. He wandered into our yard, and was living under our shed. We would see him coming and going, but it took us months to coax him out to get food. We started putting the food closer and closer to the deck. He got to know the time we would feed him, and would wait on the deck for us. During a snowstorm, I threw a towel over him, grabbed him,  and brought him inside. Blue never quite got over his shyness, but he did like to follow us around and peek at us from the top of the cabinets. He was just becoming a real member of the family when he had the stroke.

So now, we are watching poor Furrytail like a hawk. Furry is all over my blog. He always has to be in all my photos! He is older now, 16-1/2 years, but he seems to be doing ok. We decided against surgery because of his age. The vet thinks that because the cancer is fairly slow growing, that he may be able to live out his normal lifespan. I certainly hope so. I cannot stand the thought of him being in pain. 
UGH! As I said, quite a year!

I will remember these little faces forever!

Ok, on to some stitching.

I finished up Cape Cod's Girls.

Cape Cod's Girls - The Primitive Needle 36ct linen

Then I decided to stitch the companion piece, Cape Cod's Boys.

Cape Cod's Boys - The Primitive Needle

 Here is the completed stitch:

Cape Cod's Boys - The Primitive Needle 36 ct linen

Next, I started work on one that I have had in my stash for ages!

The Industrious Bee Sampler - Theron Traditions
I have been plodding along on this one. This is what I have so far.

 It is very slow-going. The two yellow flowers, under the birds took forever. They are done in Queen stitch. The visibility gets very limited doing this stitch, especially towards the end when it is so crowded with stitches, but it does give it a nice 3-d type effect.

I took a little break here to work on some holiday stitching.

I am stitching The Ice Crystal ornament from Mill Hill.

Mill Hill Ice Crystal

I am designing this to be hung in my bay window. I love the Mill Hill ornaments, but in the past, I haven't liked how they looked from the back. For that reason, I decided to make two, and put them together.

I finished the first one, and attached the charm at the bottom and the hanger at the top.

I am working on the second one now. I have finished all the stitching. Now I have to finish up sewing on all the beads. This should go faster because I will not be sewing on another charm, or making another hanger.

Mill Hill Ice Crystal - Front and back 
After I finish up the beading, I will whip-stitch them together, and hopefully they will hang nicely in the bay window.

This has been a very long post. I will leave it at that. I will be back to show the finished ornament soon.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Big Reveal !

The "Constellations of the Northern Hemisphere" quilt is finished!

I finally finished all the stitching and quilting.

Next, I had to peel off the transfer paper. I totally underestimated how long this would take. It had to
be done very carefully so  the stitches were not pulled out. This was a very tedious job, and I am still finding stitches that were pulled out!

I spent 5 evenings working at pulling it away with tweezers.

After this, the binding was next. I decided against a contrasting binding. I think using the same dark sky color for the binding gives it more of a feeling of infinity to it.

Finally, a finish!

This was hard to photograph. I did the best I could to get it all in.

Here is a close up of the Milky Way that took forever with all those French Knots!

Here is a shot of the back.

 It feels very good to have finished this! I still don't have the hangers on the back, but that is a problem for another day!

In between working on the quilt, I made a new start. I have had this in my stash for ages.

I am stitching it on 40 count Picture this Plus linen in Heritage. It is hard to tell from the photo, but it has a green murky color to it that looks like the water.

This is what I have so far.

I didn't realize quite how small it would be. I wish I had saved some of the linen. I didn't need this big of a piece, and it was pretty expensive! Oh well, better too big than too small!

I will be back with more photos soon.

Enjoy the Spring everyone!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Caught between the Moon and New York City . . .

or, more accurately, between the Milky Way and a suburb north of NYC!

I have been working on the Constellation quilt. I have stitched many of the stars, all except those around the outer rim.

The part that has really slowed me down is the band of stars in the Milky Way, all French Knots!

For the past four evenings, I have done nothing but French Knots. I have done hundreds of them! It is very fatiguing to do them through the quilt hoop and template, and, I am sure I will have to re-do many of them. It is hard to see with the template on top.

Here is a photo of the whole quilt so far.

(click on photo to enlarge)
(Whenever I lay out anything on the dining room table, Furry insists on jumping up to see what's going on)!

It is hard to see the progress with the template. You can probably make out the tiny white dots in the middle of the screen. That is perhaps a third of the Milky Way. I have a long way to go!

The construction lines of the quilt are stitched with quilting thread, but I am using DMC Glow-in-the-dark white floss. It looks like regular DMC, but it tends to get fuzzy, especially when it catches on the template. It really does glow in the dark, but I don't know how to show it here in a photo. It needs to be very dark. I am not sure who will be looking at it in the dark, but it's an interesting idea!

French Knots
I think I may need to order more of the Glow-in-the-dark floss. The French Knots eat up a lot of it.

The stars themselves use a very interesting notation system. It was inspired by the system developed in the 1950's by H. A. Rey. Rey was an amateur astronomer, but is probably best known as the author of the Curious George books.

Each star is represented by their visual magnitude (brightness as seen from the planet Earth).
The stars have six  corresponding sizes on a scale of 0 (brightest) to 5 (faintest or smallest).
Each star is stitched using a backstitch. This is how they appear on the quilt.

The quilt is coming along, but I still have a long way to go. I am a little nervous about the big reveal, when I tear off the template. I hope the stitching is not too sloppy. I cannot imagine making a full size quilt. The option is to make x's instead of French Knots. I would definitely do that if I were making the larger quilt!

I do have another finish for 2016. Before I started the quilt, I finished up a pair of socks for Keith's birthday. They are knitted with Kroy sock yarn. I couldn't post them before this, or it would have spoiled the surprise. I hope they fit. Every pair I make fits a little differently. Here they are.

Hope he like them!

I am currently thinking about how I will finish the quilt. I guess it should be hung on a wall. That means I will have to sew quilt hangers on the back. I have never actually done that with a quilt, although I have read about it. Hmmm, another experiment!

That's all I have for now. Enjoy the Spring everyone.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Finish, and a Very Cool New Project!

Love Heart from Bothy Threads is finished!

Love Heart from Bothy Threads
I sewed on the last of the beads yesterday. It is hard to see them, but here is a close-up.

I always forget how big heart-shapes are. I do wish now I had stitched it on 32 ct instead of 28 ct.

And now for my cool new project!

Keith gave me this for Christmas!

I have always loved astronomy. When I saw this quilt from Haptic Lab, I knew I had to stitch it!
If you are not familiar with Haptic Lab, you can read about them here. They have city quilts from all over the world, and a map of the constellations from the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Very cool!
I am stitching the Northern Hemisphere Constellations.

For the night sky, I chose a marbled cotton from Moda.

The template is placed over the quilt sandwich.

It is a bit awkward stitching this way. I am making the wall or crib size. I cannot imagine stitching the full size version. The template is very stiff, but at the same time, it is fragile. It tears very easily when the stitches are pulled through it. I tried to tape it together in some places but the tape doesn't stick to it.

I am a very traditional quilter, and stitches on this quilt are larger than I am used to making. Also, it is a leap of faith how the stitches will look, because I won't see them until the template is removed. The stitches need to be tight, but it you pull too tight, it tears the template.

It will be hard to show my progress on this because the stitches do not show on the template.

Here is a shot of the back. I think you can see the stitching better here. I chose the same marbled pattern from Moda for the back, but in a light blue, for the day sky.

I haven't gotten to stitching any of the stars yet. I am still working on the construction quilting that holds it together.
By next time, I will hopefully have some of the stars done.

The weather looks like is is starting to warm up here. I am certainly looking forward to that! The chickens and bees are too!

Thanks for all of your kind word about my stitching. Some of you, I tried to get in touch with, but the email was bounced. I have no idea whether is is you or me. Please know that I appreciate all of your comments though.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Pillow

This was not my first pillow!

I have made pillows with piping before, and I have installed many zippers in my time.
I have no idea why all of this went so wrong. It seemed like everything that could go wrong, went wrong!

I finally finished Winter Watch, after what seemed like forever filling in all that gray and then making all the French knot snowflakes!

I decided to turn it into a pillow. I remembered that I had a piece of gray velveteen in the attic that I thought would be perfect for the backing. As it turned out, it wasn't the best match, but it was ok. I wanted to stay away from the Christmas reds, so it would be displayable in January-March.

Well, then my troubles began. My trusty 50+ year old Kenmore was acting up! The tension was all messed up, and the clutch for some reason wouldn't engage. How does this happen when the last time I used it, it was perfectly fine?

Well, after an entire afternoon of fiddling with it, I got it so it would work, not perfectly, but enough to get me through hopefully.

I had a lot of trouble with it. First I made the piping out of the same material, Then I basted it to the canvas, and sewed it on. That went ok. Next step was to put the invisible zipper in. The side of the zipper that went onto the canvas went in ok, but when I tried to sew the other half to the velveteen backing I had a lot of trouble.

 No matter what I did, I couldn't get that pillow to line up! It seemed like the backing had skewed itself, so it was crooked. I don't know how this happened because I basted everything, but it slid around somehow!

After hours of trying to straighten it out, I gave up. This is what it looks like:

I was going to make a pillow liner for it but I didn't, thinking that maybe someday I would go back and revisit it. For now though, I am so frustrated, I can't even look at it!

I guess it is ok if no one turns it over, but people always do, don't they?

I would love to fix this, but I really don't know how I can make it any better. I can feel my blood pressure going up just thinking about this! What a disappointment! Maybe I shouldn't have attempted the zipper with the piping on such a thick fabric as the velveteen. Certainly not my best work! Oh well! Moving on . . .

I knitted a pair of socks for me! This was actually my first finish for the year.

I knitted these using Kroy sock yarn, in Brown Marl. I liked the colors. They seem so cozy.

For a change of pace, I am now stitching Love Heart from Bothy Threads. I love this design. It is so fun and quirky!

This is what I have so far:

I did swop out the aida for 28 ct linen, which I much prefer. In hind sight however, I wish I had chosen 32 count linen instead of the 28ct. I didn't realize how big this design was. I would like to frame this one, but my wall space is somewhat limited

That's all I have for now. I am looking forward to spring as I am sure all of your are. I suspect that winter is not quite done with us though! March is always a tricky one!

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 Finishes

Clearly, from these photos, 2015 was the year of the sock!

I didn't count in here the unfinished Christmas ornaments. I guess they will be early 2016 finishes.

Have a Happy New Year everyone!