Saturday, December 13, 2014

CQI Retreat Ornament Exchange

Carol K. and I exchanged handmade Christmas ornaments this year. The one I made for her is on the right and the one on the left is the one she made for me. I love it Carol!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Dyeing with Avocados!

A neighbor and friend once told me that you could dye things with Avocados. I had heard of it before and so I started collecting pits and skins. I made a lot of guacamole and it was good. Then I put the pits and skins in a baggie in the freezer until I had many many small sandwich bags stuffed. What prompted me to get them out and finally use them was a bush in my backyard. I was out in the yard where my husband was trimming some bushes and noticed one of the bushes had some berries in it and so I decided to see if the berries would dye anything. I have a large plastic bin full of dye-ables that I have collected over the years -- some vintage crocheted pieces, silk ribbons, various threads, rayon ribbons, fabrics, etc. So out it came. These are all natural fibers (cotton, wool, silk) or a rayon mix. I searched online about dyeing with Avocados and got some great ideas from this website:

I have a fair amount of dyeing experience and dyeing supplies myself, so I added some steps. First I cleaned anything that I was worried about taking the dye. Some fabrics have chemicals on them that prevent the dye from taking to the object you're dyeing. To clean these items I used a few tablespoons of soda ash in some water in a pan on the stove. I let the water get nice and hot but never boiled it. I stirred my fabrics and fibers in this concoction for several minutes. After the wash I put all the fibers and fabrics in a large bucket filled with a gallon of water and 1/2 cup of soda ash and soaked it for 30 minutes. Soda ash acts as a mordant and makes the dye somewhat permanent. I say somewhat permanent because some of the dye always washes out. It will look like it is going to be much darker than it will actually end up.

I got several plastic containers for the large pieces of fabrics and used mason jars for the smaller fibers. I decided to do 3 batches so I had 3 pans of water on the stove -- one with pits only (cut in half), one with skins only and one with pits and skins. I also had a 4th with the berries. At first I put the pits and skins in with the materials, but I noticed they were staining the fabric darker in places; some looked great and some not so great. This would be a great experiment later to purposefully make a batik type fabric and some of my fabrics did turn out like this. Eventually I removed all the pits, skins, and berries. I let them soak in the sun (or a warm place) for about 24 hours. I brought them in at night. The sun was too hot and evaporated some of the dye. It also burnt the fabrics on top where the fabrics were exposed to the light. If you don't live in Colorado and the sun isn't too bright you could probably get away with this. I ended up putting paper towels on top of the fabric to protect it, but I'll probably keep them inside next time.

After soaking for a day I took all the fabrics and fibers out of the dye and rinsed them in cold water. I let them sit in the cold water for a couple of hours and then rinsed them again. I did this over an over again until the water ran clear.

The berries turned out a nice grey-blue, the pits a pale pink, and the other two I am confused about. I'm very good about performing my experiments scientifically, but not so good about writing them down! One was slightly darker than the pale pink and another slightly darker than that one. I think the skins were the darkest. For some reason some pieces in each batch turned out pale peach. Also, some items really took the dye and were comparably really dark. There didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. So many people are surprised that avocado dye things pink and such a nice victorian pink at that! I did not test the pH as it suggested on the link I referred you to.

I saved the dyes and added more fabrics to them and let them sit for another 24 hours. I added more soda ash to see what would happen. The fabrics-fibers turned much more peachy. I don't think I quite got the right colors in these photos, but they're somewhere in the neighborhood. (-; The first one is really more pink than that, a little more like the last one, but brighter. Maybe I should take pictures during daylight hours!

I liked how they turned out pretty well so I decided to put some together for a gift exchange we did at the Crazy Quilting International (CQI) Retreat.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Finally finished my "Angelina" Italian Drawn Thread Work Piece!

I have been working on Barbara Kershaw's Italian Drawn Thread design called Angelina. It is a fingertip towel that I turned into a placemat by working the design at both ends. I worked it as part of an EGA (Embroidery Guild of America) group correspondence course. Happiness is a completed project.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Schwalm Class Completed!!!!!!!!!!!

Yay! I took a couple of EGA courses by Barbara Kershaw. This one was to learn Schwalm whitework embroidery. The finished piece is a cover that fits over a pillow. The class was understandable and fun. I'm just very glad I'm done because I've taken on a bit too much and don't like projects hanging over my head. Here's the finished product, one a picture of the cover on a pillow and the second is a closeup of the stitching. You can click on the photos for a closer look.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Is this cool or what?

My friend Maggie and I went to estate sales yesterday and we accidentally stumbled across one that was phenomenal. This gal must have sold antiques in her day because her house was full of wonderful things right up my alley and probably many of yours as well. Right now I'm just going to post about one thing that I was looking at and put down. My friend Maggie saw my interest and bought it for me. I thought she was interested in it too, but then she gave it to me - what a sweetie! I had no idea what to do with it and now I have some ideas. I did some research online and it turns out it is a wall hanger for an oil lamp. It has a patent date on it of June 1881 - I thought that was pretty cool.

I think it could be useful for a number of things if I can find a wall bracket for it. 1) I could actually use it for an oil lamp. 2) I could use it for a candle, 3) I could put a plant in it, or 4) I could put a pin cushion in it (my answer for nearly everything's use). I hope you will share any ideas you have. It clearly needs some cleaning up or I could leave it all antiqued like it is complete with spider webs. (-;

Friday, July 18, 2014

Yummy Stash

I got these wonderful items at the last estate sale I went to. Do you not love them? I especially am fond of the velvet leaves. The sheer pink with gold edges do it for me also though. (-; This person had 4 rooms of fabric. It was so much stash that I became overwhelmed. It was like a store full of quilting supplies. It was one of the first estate sales that I've been through that I couldn't look through all the stash. Just overwhelming.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Romanian Point Lace

When ever there is a lot of driving to be done on a long trip I always bring something to work on. On our last vacation I decided to try Romanian Point Lace. It was really fun and surprisingly easy. I got this pattern off of a tutorial online:
If you've ever wanted to try some lace, this is not a bad place to start. It doesn't require a lot of materials to do and isn't too difficult.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Cool Tool

I'm am a big fan of tools -- tools that make life easier. My favorite tools are sewing tools -- of course! When I was at an estate sale the other day I was leaving the house by way of the garage and checking out the garage merchandise on my way to the checkout, not really expecting to find much to interest me in said garage. I spied a little grungy corroded tarnished tool that caught my attention. I walked on by (just like the 60s song -- picture me breaking out into song here because we sang this song when I was in 7th grade music class). After making my way around the garage, picking up a plant hanger, putting it back down, I made my way to the cool tool table and picked up the cool tool.  $2. OK - I still have no idea why I think it is cool, but on pure intuition and a $2 gamble I picked it up and headed to checkout. While there a woman confidently told me it was a seam measuring tool.  heh heh.

I am home now and have cleaned up the cool brass tool with a little brasso. Here it is! This is 3 photos of the same tool at different positions. I would hope my crazy quilter friends might see the instant attraction that I had to it. Looks like I need to get the rest of the brasso off of it. lol. I might have blended the photo a bit too much too because I see a corner sort of just fades away. Ha ha.

Anyway, I looked up the tool on the internet to see what it was and lo and behold it is a Combination Paper-Cutting Tool, Rule, and Dafting and Measuring Tool that was patented in 1924 and granted in 1928. It was meant to be an advertising gimic for businesses - they would have this tool made up with their business name on it. Mine was from the Indianapolis Paint & Color Company.
Photo from

Further research found a site trying to sell it for $125.00. A bit more than I paid for it. Of course, that doesn't mean I could get that much for it if I tried to sell it, but it is hopeful. Apparently there is a market for antique tools. I will play with it for a while to see if it is useful and if it doesn't pan out -- to ebay it goes! I can buy a lot of stash for that kind of money! But, it could be wonderfully useful -- measures angles and lengths, has holes for even marking of seam treatments. Think of it's value in marking triangular CQ shapes ...

Friday, June 20, 2014

Button Nirvana!

This week I went to an estate sale. There was nothing particularly special about the sale and I wasn't thrilled while I was there, but when I got home... I bought a button jar that didn't look very exciting -- I rolled it around and looked inside and there was only a few that looked remotely interesting. I almost bypassed it, but instead of being the usual $8 or $10 for the jar it was only $2.00. I thought that even the few remotely interesting ones would be worth at least that so I bought it. When I got it home I pulled out a pan and dumped out the buttons. I could scarcely see a button I wasn't interested in! How did that happen? They are mostly very old -- some even in the victorian era. I am thrilled. I have to spend some time to clean them up because some are very dirty, but here is a preview of a little of what thrills me. Some yummy shell buttons. I love thes things.  Also think the buckles are pretty cool.

 This little guy is apparently a fable button and may be from the 1890s. It is a stork with its bill in a wolf's mouth. I saw similar items for sale for $10 online.
 I am not particularly intrigued by this one except it was on sale online for $9. Apparently it is a 10k Modern Woodmen of America 50 year lapel pin and is collectable.
If I can sell them I can go out and buy at least 9 more jars of buttons like this one. Ha ha -- if I could ever find one this cheap again.  (-; There are many more, but I have to clean them up and this requires research and care.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

How excited can a girl get over a little lace anyway? Plenty!

I went to an estate sale in Denver recently because they had a big bin marked "Lace". When I went they had several $3 bags of which I picked up "several".  (-; But, my favorite bag was marked 50 cents. Here is the contents. Do you think they mispriced it? I LOVE the Irish crocheted lace, especially the narrow ones in the 2nd photo since I didn't have any before I picked up this baggie.
I am wondering about the top piece of lace above. Is it handmade? What kind of lace is it? The second piece is a nice filet lace. The third is hand crocheted. The 4th and 5th are both handmade Irish lace. I just love Irish lace. The bottom piece is attached to some hand embroidered netting lace. The photo doesn't show it, but these are healthy lengths of lace.

The first 3 on the left are machine made laces. My favorites here are the hand made Irish lace pieces, 5th and 6th from the left. The two hand crocheted pieces are very nice also (7th and 9th from the left). There are 4 laces that are on netting (4th, 8th, 10th and last). I'm fairly sure the last one is hand done and probably the one before it, but am not sure about the other two - they are possibly machine made. Whenever I see laces like these they are labeled french lace. A lovely group of laces to add to my collection to be sure. I am ecstatic! If you know something about the laces here, please leave a comment. I always like to know more about lace.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Fans DYB - My work on Lisa A's block

This is my work on Lisa A's block and the progress of her entire block with Gerry K's center work and Lisa B, Judy and my work on the seam treatments for the fans. I love how it is turning out!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Fans Round Robin

This is my work on Judy's block in the CQI Fans Round Robin I am in.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fans DYB - Gerry K.'s Block

Here is Gerry K.'s block from the Fans DYB in CQI. She made the block and I got to embellish it. Lisa B. had previously stitched a block magnificently and I was under a considerable amount of pressure to keep up! I'm not sure I made it to Lisa's skills, but I did my best! I tried several new to me seam treatments that I will definitely be using again.

Recent Estate Sale Finds!

I recently came by some nice crocheted motifs, cut work, lace and a fantastic footstool; all which I can see making into some fabulous created items. I am not sure how I will use the crocheted items as they are larger than something I would put into a crazy quilt. They might be nice as a center of a white on white crazy quilt if I build up and embellish the flowers or as a similar project all unto itself. The cut work angels would be nice as a quilt border or I could use the angels individually. The lace will come in handy for just about anything. The footstool I have fantasies about covering with a wonderful forested crazy quilt with mushrooms and snails and who knows what else. Putting a CQ on the stool will pretty much ruin it for any real use, but it can sit around and look pretty. I got some other fantastic things too, but I am not going to keep them all to myself. I will put the rest into my Etsy shop - there are some fabulous lace scarves/shawls, a victorian nightgown, and two pairs of Victorian bloomers!

Monday, March 31, 2014

My sweet helper

Yesterday I spent part of the day sewing on my second Barbara Krenshaw Italian drawn thread work piece - an EGA (Embroiderer's Guild of America) correspondence course. I made a little spot for Oreo to lay - the table was completely covered with sewing goodies, and Oreo was content to lay on top of them all, but I wasn't happy with that situation.  (-; Oreo follows me around like a little dog when he's not napping.

The pin cushion is done by a friend, Bev, in Utah -- it was her very first crazy quilted project. I won it in a white elephant type game at the last CQI retreat. I really love it and the cat.

Friday, March 28, 2014

I am so blessed

I went kitchen table shopping with my grandgirls the other day and I happened to spy a 1970's style multi-drawered metal filing cabinet. Judging from the paperwork I found in it, it once belonged to an insurance company. So I asked the owner how much he wanted for it and he said $39 with a tone that said "Please take it away.".  (-; So I told him I'd take it not really sure where I was going to put it or what I was going to store in it. I knew my husband would just be delighted I was bringing home another storage cabinet - NOT! - so I didn't tell him. Ha ha. I had to wait to pick it up until the next day and I called him on the way home to ask him a question. His phone went dead and so he had to return my call to my cell and realized I wasn't home. So he asks where I was. I said "I don't want to tell you." He says "Yes you do." So I told him. He started to say we didn't need any more junk around the house, and I say "This is why I didn't want to tell you.", and he went silent.  (-; I did find a place to put it - in the loft where my computer and Etsy shop things are - and I decided to store shop items in it. My shop items are in disarray - small items on a shelf isn't the best use of space. But, they are wonderfully sorted and space efficient in my new cabinet. It is slightly ugly, but apparently I got a great deal on it. Beat up ones are selling for $150 online and nice ones for $325. I can always sell it when I no longer need it. What crafter doesn't need a great storage tool like this!! I kind of wanted to paint it a nice acqua green to go with the rest of my loft colors, but I can't see a good way to remove the label holders - which are fantastic for organizing by the way! I suppose I could paint them right along with the cabinet. It's not a bad color as far as metal cabinets go.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Day 61: My work on Lisa B.'s block

I am in a Round Robin in Crazy Quilting International (CQI) yahoo group with the theme of fans.  This is my work on Lisa B's blocks. She pieced her blocks in black and wanted them embellished in pink and green.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Day 59: Italian Drawn Thread Work

This is another piece I've been working to complete. This piece started as a class I took through my local Embroiderer's Guild (EGA). Barbara Kershaw designed it and taught it to us in person. Barbara was a lovely woman who inspired me to do not just this piece, but others that she designed. It was originally designed as a towel with the embroidered design and drawn thread work on only one end, but I decided to adapt it and make it into a small table cloth. So I changed the center embroidered design slightly and centered it and put the drawn thread work on both ends. I didn't finish the piece in class and when it came time to hem it, my first time, I procrastinated doing the job. Finally I took some time during daylight hours when I was fresh to read and re-read the instructions. I normally do my stitching in the evenings, but when I have to tackle something new I must do it during the day. I can't focus at night when I'm tired and my eyes and mind aren't cooperating any more. Sometimes you just have to read the instructions a few times and get the feel of it, and then just do it! I like how it turned out and enjoyed the process. Good thing, because I have a few more Barbara Kershaw projects to do.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Day 46 - Art Every Day

Sorry - I've been delinquent! I have done art every day except one, but I've have so many deadlines I've not posted.  Here's one thing I had a deadline to complete - piecing these crazy quilted fan blocks for a "Do your Block" (DYB) round robin in the Crazy Quilt International (CQI) yahoo group. I first planned the blocks, then decided to use a different color dark velvet for each fan handle and end.  I also decided to use a different wide vintage lace on each block at the end of the fan blades. Each blade fabric is different and a lighter version of the dark velvet. On one blade of each block I used a piece of fabric overlaid with lace or a sheer.See if you can find it.

This is a larger block and has a different shape than normally worked for a "Do Your Block" (DYB) in CQI.  Normally they are 6" square, but these are actually in the shape of a fan and the bladed part is about the size of a 6 x 6 give or take a bit. The girls will only embellish the blades and if I decide to use them together in a piece, I will do something common to each velvet part that will tie the blocks together.  I may use them as individual pieces and perhaps I'll add a handle.  Maybe I'll make them into individual fan wall hangings or a piece to sit in a frame of some sort on the piano.  (-;  I did take pictures along the way so I think I'll post the development of the blocks.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Day 24 - Art Every Day - Some progress on Tahlia's postcard

I have done some embroidery along the center strip of fabric and have added some pearls to it.  Then I made a couple of flowers above it.  The one that looks like a snowflake is stitched with fly stitches, has a sequin in the center and some beads along the outside.  The other two are made of sheer ribbon with a pearl in the center.  On the lower left seam treatment I did some spider web roses. There is a tan stem like swirl done in wrapped back stitch. I also added some stitching around the roses - bouillons, chain and buttonhole which I like the look of.  On the upper right I stitched my name and location. The light is poor tonight and I needed some shadow to be able to pick up the embroidery I did on the shiny strip.  If there is too much light, it shines too brightly for the embroidery to be seen.

Day 23 - Art Every Day - Back to knitting

Knitting is what I actually want to be doing these days, but I have several projects that I need to finish so I can move on to some new projects that will be opening themselves up to me rather quickly! I didn't get much done, but I decided to switch to some smaller needles and am still practicing the Austrian Block Stitch. My knitting seems too tight for my liking and I'm not sure how to loosen it up.  Any suggestions would be welcome.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Day 22 - Art Every Day - Pieced a postcard for Tahlia

Tahlia is another person who I owed a "Snowball" to.  In her case she wanted a postcard sized CQ made in my style. Tonight I pieced her postcard in some special fabrics that I someday want to do a larger piece in. This will be a nice prelude to it. Next I will go about embellishing it. There is a line on the bottom left corner fabric that doesn't exist - the light picked up the slightest wrinkle and magnified it.  Hmmm.

Day 21 - Art Every Day - Finished Nicki Lee's Snowball

Hope she likes it!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Day 20- Art Every Day - Tangles

I bought my grandgirls some tangle notebooks, pens, and zentangle books for Christmas. When I pick them up from school we all do tangles and zentangles together. Here's some tangles I did today.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Day 19 - Art Every Day - Crazy Quilted Snowball

I decided I really needed to get this snowball done.  I've owed it to Nicki Lee for the longest time - she probably thinks I forgot about her. I don't think I'm done yet - I will probably add some beads or something. I'm pretty happy with how the little seahorse turned out.  He looks better in person.

Day 18 - Art Every Day - Photography

My husband and I went on an 8.8 mile hike today and when I returned I didn't have a lot of energy for much but eating and sitting in front of the tv.  I did take some photos of our hike, none that turned out extremely well, but it it my art for today!