Tuesday, October 29, 2013

And today's homework will be.....

Well, I had to settle down tonight and do some homework.  Yesterday was all about art quilts and creating my own quilt.  Yep, right out of my own little head, down to the fabric and to a finished quilt.  I left so jazzed and all 'creative' that the homework project I just couldn't get an inkling of an idea of what do to, popped in front of my face....literally.

Posted to my Facebook page was a tutorial listed by Photoshop Roadmap on Photo Text Splash Effects. 

See, I had to come up with a Halloween or Fall themed e-postcard and post to the web via the school browser.  Fine....if I had an idea of what I wanted to do.  And this I saw the tutorial and lightbulbs went off.

First, I played with using Lady K as my subject.  After all, I wanted to see just how it was going to go.


It was a great tutorial, very easy to follow and I love the outcome.  So then I pulled some of my pictures of fall leaves and created my homework assignment.


I love it because it almost has a watercolor feel to it, at least in the splashes around the words.

But then I broke down and did a Halloween themed one.....


It's scary on more than one level!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Falling Into Winter

Tonight and tomorrow is suppose to be the first real chance of snow here at my home in Helena.  We have had snow "just up the hill" from us and the surrounding mountains are wearing a thin coat of snow, but my front yard is suppose to get 1-3 inches in the next 36 hours.  Snow in October!  My little Southern heart is pounding and I have this insane urge to run out and get milk, bread and toilet paper (actually, we are all set on all three).

But the foliage has been beautiful so far.  I stepped out into the backyard yesterday morning as the sun was coming up and took these pictures of the leaves in the early morning light.



There is a huge spruce tree in our backyard.  It drives the dogs crazy because it is usually filled with birds.  But the morning light turns these blue-green needles to gold.

Even the most mundane of trees (if there can be a mundane tree) are gilded in the morning light.


The light here and the "big sky" are fantastic just about any time you care to go outside.


The crab apple tree has become a golden apple tree in this light.

But my favorite tree and one I have fallen in love with, is the Weeping Birch.  It has all the hanging branches of a weeping willow that I am use to.   The leaves are small and there are millions of them on a tree.  It also has the white bark with the black markings of a birch tree.  And in the fall it turns to molten gold, just dripping off the branches onto the ground.


How can you not feel rich with that in your view?  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sew Sew Saturday Recap

I am discovering with my many 'activities' I really need to make a plan of attack, so to speak.  It seems if I make a list of what I want to get accomplished in a given day, more seems to get done.  I prove this too myself over and over again, and then forget to do it, over and over again.  On Saturday, I got up with the intention of getting some sewing projects either out of the way or onto the next step and I did accomplish that goal.

First off, I did have my able-bodied assistant, so gets paid in Cheerios, Goldfish, hugs and kisses.  She is happy to play on the floor in the sewing room.  I need to rearrange the contents of one cabinet so I can put toys in there for her to open and play with as she gets a little older.


Both my girls never gave me an issue with getting into any of my knitting, cross stitch, sewing projects as they were growing up.  They would look and watch, but never had an issue with them.  So I am hoping that is passed down to Lady K.  I do give her scraps of fabric to 'play' with and that keeps her occupied for a bit.

I needed to finish sewing up the last 15 hexes for my One Block Wonder quilt that I had cut out.  I wanted to free up the design board for a couple of other things.  This is what I have so far toward the quilt.


My plan for this is a couple of boarders, one in purple batik and the other in the original fabric.  That should give me a nice, large throw sized quilt.  I have enough fabric for creating octagons rather than hexagons using the same One Block Wonder premise.  So I may do that to see what the difference is in the finished product.  So the next step is to get some purple batik (and I might get some graduated colors and go from dark to light on the batik boarder) and separate the hexes into light and dark and sew it up.

So the hexes were pinned together by Texter and removed from the board so I could get onto what she really wanted me to be working on....the shoes for Lady K's Halloween costume.


The pattern is quick and easy and produces a cute 'shabby-chic' baby shoe.  Since she won't be walking on it and will have on tights (like most babies would), the fact there are seams inside the shoe is no biggie.  The most time consuming part of the pattern is quilting a 12 X 12 piece of fabric for the shoe before you cut out the pieces.  I couldn't do the pinking on the edges as my pinking shears are in storage in North Carolina still.  But for what we need them for, this is great.

Month 2 of the "Joy" quilt was last Friday night.  Saturday morning, while all the instructions were still semi-in-my-head, I sewed it together.  Not happy with some of my points, but on a galloping horse.....


Once again, I reversed some of the dark/light squares since my background is very dark.  I'm pleased with how the quilt is looking so far.  One of the nice things about the class is that I can see how others pick fabrics for the same quilt pattern.  That is probably one of the more valuable things I am walking away with - just how different the blocks look with different fabrics.  Also, two of the people who were in last years class brought in their finished quilts.  Once again, different fabrics, totally different looks.   So I am saving my pennies to have it professionally quilted once finished.

Finally, I was able to get to the project I really wanted to be working on, my 'Fractured Grinch'.   This is one of the blocks, which to me, looks suitably 'Seuss-like'.


So now my week is planned out with my library schedule, homework and projects.  And I plan on next Saturday to be another Sew-Sew Saturday.  During the week I will hopefully finish up the unicorn hat for Savvy and the Downton Abbey hat for me.  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sew Sew Saturday

After continually waking up stiff and creaky, I started today with a bit of yoga to 'release' my spine and 'open' up my breathing.  And at least for right now, my back is feeling less locked up and I feel better.  Now to get into my daily coffee consumption.However, as part of the yoga exercise, I am suppose to set my intention for the day and to think on it while breathing.  I already knew what I wanted to do today, but I decided to take it a bit further.  So, with Lady K's help (and she helped with the yoga too), I created a mandala while reflecting on the fact that I wanted to work on several stages of different sewing projects.  And to take my intentions a step even further, I created a mandala out of the fabric I am using for my "Joy" quilt.

As I showed in a previous posting, here is the fabric I am using for the quilt.




And to set my intentions for the day and to think about what it is I want to accomplish today, here is my "Joy" mandala....



It reminds me of a flower opening up, all the tight layers peeling back.  The center, with it's small checks, looks like a seed head to me...a blue sunflower seed head.

So Lady K and I will head down to the basement to work on my sewing for the day.  My plans include...

a pair of black shoes to finish Lady K's Halloween costume

finish block 2 on the Joy quilt (just have to stitch together, already cut out)

press the blocks I have sewn for the One Block Wonder quilt and add them to the design board

cut out and hopefully completely, my Dr. Seuss Grinch quilt top

work on my Tula Pink squares (I'm behind)

finish up on one of the bags for Texter

cut up and sew on bag for Savvy

Very ambitious for one day, so we will see how it goes.  I also have 2 ears left to crochet and to attach, along with the horn and mane, to a cap and to finish up the brim of a Downton Abbey hat for me.  I also need to go through my scraps and pull out pieces big enough for my hexies to add to the bag for handwork.

So many projects, so little time!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mandala Makin'

I realized it has been awhile since I stopped and made some mandalas.  Actually, I think it is because my mind is buzzing with all the 'stuff' I 'have' to do  want to do and I needed just to stop for a moment and settle down.  I picked three pictures I wanted to use for three mandalas (there is something about the number 3 in several religions and when you are knitting/crocheting prayer shawls you are suppose to do in multiples of 3) and poured a cup of coffee (or 3) and set to breathing deep and 'playing'.

The first mandala was made with a picture of red leaves I took this past weekend in downtown Helena. Actually, driving to work yesterday after a freeze the night before, all the trees are vomiting (because that's what it looks like) their leaves onto the ground/street.  So there won't be many leaves left on trees much longer.  



I focused on the center leaf for the mandala, just like I did in the picture and this is what emerged.


What I didn't realize until I was done was how the shadows in the leaf created a light/dark leaf when flipped and aligned.  I also liked the keyhole effect in the opening between the edges of the leaf where you can see through to the background.

The next picture I selected was a picture of a house finch.  However, this is an unusual color variation for this part of the country I am told.  Instead of a more red/purple coloring, this is a yellow/orange coloring.  I am suppose to be making a copy of the picture to take to the local bird seed store in downtown Helena to have them post on their board.  

The original shows the bird feeding at the nyger seed bag.  Luckily, he seems to be coming back on a regular basis.


And this is the result of my 'mandala-ing'....


I didn't impress myself too much on this one.   I do like how the center forms a square though.  And it is growing on me the more I look at it.

The third one I did, I think I like the best of the ones I did today.  The original is a picture of a fall flower, bright pink and hanging in there despite the freezing temps some nights.


I was going to just focus on the flower alone, but then I changed the angle a bit and saw the bud beside it and went with that instead.


I love how the center turned out and the buds forming a "V" on the edge.  I just really like this one.  I also used a little bit different of a 'glow' pattern on the inside edge than on the other ones.

One thing I did do with all the pictures on this posting was to start putting my name and year on them.  I realize that I post my pictures without any kind of identification and I really want to start putting my name on what I create and show to the world.  Maybe I can fool myself into believing I am a little more professional?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fall Saturday

This past Saturday, there was a Kid's Fest in the park by the library.  Texter and I decided it would be a good outing for Lady K.  So off we went into the 'fall' weather.  Unfortunately, Montana's definition of fall and the North Carolina definition of fall are about 20 degrees apart - literally.  It was a bit chilly for those of us from climates further south.

But Lady K was adorned with her new unicorn cap.  She wasn't too impressed by it, but everyone passing us loved it. 


The 'mane' has glittery yarn in it, so it has some bling.  Aunt Savvy will be getting an adult version of this hat shortly. 

While we didn't hang around the Kid's Fest long (activities were a bit too old for her), we decided to walk further downtown.  Actually, we were looking for an ATM to go buy a pumpkin (which wasn't accomplished) and kept going.

It was a beautiful day, with lots of 'color' along the way.





In looking for the ATM, we stumbled across the Farmer's Market.  I have been meaning to go, but never made it yet.  Unfortunately, it is almost over for the year, but we will definitely be going back again and again.


Not only where there fruit and veggie vendors, but also artisans of all kinds.  There was a lady selling her own dyed wool.  Thank goodness I didn't have money with me.  We did go home with a box of apples - a mix of varieties I haven't tried before.  And we shared a pork kabob, which was sssoooo good.


All the produce looked really good and I can't wait to go back again.  I want to get some local honey too.  I like it that they close off the street for the Farmer's Market.  It makes it so nice to wander around in.

Unfortunately, Lady K wasn't impressed with the Farmer's Market either.


And there was a time or two I thought about taking her blanket away and using it myself.  My little unicorn was all warm and snuggly during our Saturday morning excursion.

So fall is here and to quote George R. R. Martin, "Winter is Coming."


Monday, October 07, 2013

Bagging It

Well, the bagging has started (and temporarily stopped due to making a skirt for a conference I am going to and starting on my one-block wonder quilt) and one bag is done....almost.  But Texter got impatient and wanted to use it without the binding being sewn on the inside seams.


The fabrics used was the "Nested Owls" by Moda which Texter had her eye on for several months now.  


The pattern I used at first seemed a little fiddly (and not recommended for novices as the instructions were a little sparse at times), but I have to say this is a professionally constructed bag.  So any issues I have with the work involved is worth the finished product.



Because there are several different bags in the pattern and the instructions refer back to previous instructions on other bags, I took a page from the Judy Niemeyer class I am taking for Mariner's Compass.  I put the instructions into page protectors and into a notebook so I could flip back and forth and the pages wouldn't be ruined.

The next set of bags, as we are doing both a small and large bag, will be out of "Lily and Will" by Moda.


(Bad lighting on the fabrics - sorry)

So we have this collection (or 3 of the fabrics in the collection) in both blue and pink.



In this collection, there is one bunny in the motif, which leads to the ups and downs of this endeavor.

On the plus side, Texter, who does not sew, but is artistic, has learned some sewing terms, like grain of the fabric.  She is also learning to lay out and cut a pattern.  Which also helps her plan what she wants to do (or rather for me to do).  Also, if she cuts out the pattern, there is a greater chance of me getting to it in a timely manner since I hate cutting out patterns (quilts are different).

On the downside, she learned to read the selvage of the name of a collection and then go online to see everything in the collection.  She also found a second collection which is similar she is saving her pennies for so I can make even more bags.


"Windsor Lane" is similar, with 2 bunnies in a motif.  There are some slightly different coordinating designs and a great brown and green range in the collection.  

I can see many more bags in my future.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Another New "Neighbor"

While at BOW in August, I briefly saw a little Pine Siskin.  Now I am surrounded by them.  



They love nyger and thistle seeds so they are taking over the two bags I have hanging.  Since they travel in flocks, they are giving the sparrows a run for their money.

What is really great, is that the birds are learning they don't have anything to worry about with me out in the yard, so I am getting some great shots.



They also love sunflower seeds and will eat hanging upside down.  The late afternoon sun shining on the siskin is lovely.



This picture shows the lovely yellow on the wings and tail.  

According to my reading, they may be here this year and not show up next winter.  We are on the edge of their year-round territory and heading into their winter territory, so hopefully, they will be around for awhile.  Of course, I now have to go get more nyger or thistle seed.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Not Just for Trains Anymore

The house we are renting was apparently built by a gentleman who was a model train hobbyist.  In the basement, where my sewing room is located, are two drop-down tables which were used to set up model trains.  Now, years later, they are being used as cutting tables!

Texter has a 'tote project' going on.  I told her I would do the sewing, but she had to cut out the totes for me.  She We are using Trendy Totes and Carryalls by Taylor Made Designs for the bags.  She saw them made up at the quilt show in April and has been wanting to make some of the bags for her Lady K's use.


We are doing the two on the bottom in the middle.  Texter plans to use them as purses/diaper bags.  And she wants a couple of her new niece.  

Since we are using 3-4 different fabrics on each bag, she wanted to be able to lay everything out and 'plan'.  Yesterday we lowered the tables for the first time and the seamstress in me is delighted.


The larger table is being used as the 'planning' table.  It's chair height, but plenty big for laying out a big project.  The other table is just wide enough to accommodate fabric and cutting out patterns.


Although Texter doesn't sew, she has an excellent eye for colors and plenty of ideas.  So the first bag is cut out and Thursday I will devote entirely to stitching bags for her.  Since it is suppose to be cold and rainy/snowy, it will be a perfect day for sewing, with dinner cooking in the crock pot.  I will post the completed totes later in the week.