Grandma and her friends really knew how to have fun! No snow here yet. Just lots of rain. Like six inches in the last few days. I might need a small boat instead of a sled if this keeps up. These last lingering days of 2011 have been a whirlwind of activity inside the house though. The girls and I have been crafting up a storm, so to speak, with various projects that we can't wait to share. Oh it's all very exciting. In between the paper mache and the modge-podge, my to-do list has also kept me rather busy:
1) Re-open the PatternBee Vintage Embroidery Shop. I'll admit, it was nice to have a little break from all the printing and shipping, but I'm getting excited about jumping back in and conversing with everybody again on Tuesday. I miss you guys!
2) Finish vintage pattern restoration/contribution for "Baby Blankie". Thanks again Cathy, the new pattern will be on its way to Canada soon. (For everybody else, find it on the website under 'New Additions'.
3) Create the January 2012 Bonus Design.I went straight to Valentine's Day with this one, with a LOVE theme, so you have plenty of time to stitch up something cool for gift-giving if your heart so desires.
4) Make my special crock-pot potato cheese soup for our New Year's Day Open House. This was by request so how could I say, no? Obviously, I am making no diet-related resolutions this year. (ahem.)
5) Choose a winner for the Pinky Rose Give-Away!I know you are holding your breath; I'm rolling up my sleeves. Check back tomorrow to find out who won. It might be YOU! If you haven't entered yet, hurry and do so before the comment section is closed.
OK. I think that's it for the blog, 'til next year. See ya on the flip side friends. Have a safe New Year's Eve!
Egads, I really wish this picture was better; hard to eliminate all the glare and window shine on reflective glass. But it will have to do. Being the best of a dozen or so attempts. Oh, I did try. Mainly though, I just wanted to show you my Country House Sampler finished and framed and give you some numbers.
The frame's outside dimension is 12" x 15", with an inside dimension of 9.5" x 12.5", which as you can see, is a nice size for this little needlework. The design image is approximatley 8 x 10, so it could be framed smaller, or larger, with the addition of matting.
A few more framing tips:
When framing any needlework, make sure to start with a large enough piece of cloth to accomodate your frame size, plus two more inches all the way around, in order to pull it taught over the backing cardboard.
If your cloth is heavy, trim your cardboard a bit to allow for the extra bulk, otherwise it may not fit (easily), back into the frame.
For a nice smooth appearance, I added a thin piece of sheet cotton (batting) cut the same size as the backing. This pads the needlework and helps to eliminate some of the uneven areas.
A color chart is included with the pattern, but of course, you may do this in any colors you like; perhaps as a representation of your own house (as I did), or worked in colors to reflect the 'country house' of your dreams.
x x x x x x x x x x
OK then, it's time! Here I am getting this in just under the wire, so without further ado:: three winners have just been chosen using our very own random number generator the "super shuffler bonnet". (In case you're now wondering what in heaven's name I am talking about here's the scoop on that.)
Welcome to my 'Country House' sampler--with some of my favorite things. Think: Sound of Music, with Julie Andrews singing . . .
"Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens. Bright copper kettles, and warm woolen mittens. Brown paper packages tied up with strings--these are a few of my favorite things. Cream colored ponies, and crisp apple streudels. Doorbells and sleigh bells, and schnitzel with noodles. Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings--these are a few of my favorite things. Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes. Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes. Silver white winters that melt into spring--these are a few of my favorite things. When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad. . . I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad."
Those wonderful lyrics are sweet and simple, yet beautiful; they do tend to linger with you long after hearing them and I suppose they also had a bit of influence here.
This little project actually began last year. I stitched on it from time to time, in between the state flower quilt blocks. It was so much fun to design (I just looked around me for inspiration, and of course, that song kept lingering). Just cute fun stitching.
I finished it, but then got really, really busy with jam and pickles and all that summer harvest goodness, so the project was set aside for a bit. Now, with the bulk of the bounty fairly well managed, and with autumn settling in and offering up quiet moments of bliss now and then, stitchery is back on my mind.
And in my hands.
And on my computer screen, as it turns out, as most of this past week was spent putting the finishing touches on the pattern. I'm hugging myself for getting it all done.
The transfer pattern can be purchased on the PatternBee website HERE.
For the kick-off, I've got three patterns to give away!
So, if you are up for some fun stitching just leave a comment. I'll announce the winners Monday--October 24, 2011 before noon PST so check back then. You'll have a choice between a tracable PDF or an iron-on transfer. Please note: This give-away is open to all, but due to the increasing hassle and cost of international shipping, any winners outside the U.S. will receive a PDF only.
Update: Winners have been notified and this give-away has officially ended. Much thanks to all who participated!
What? Are you serious? Is it really September already? I have been SO busy with flower quilts and pickles, which I dare say, are still looming large in front of me right now, that I plum forgot to whip up a BONUS pattern for this month. So...that calls for Backup Plan #2...which is also a shameless plug for my little embroidery book that this stitchery was hijacked from. I hope that ain't cheatin'. Afterall, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.
May is on the way. Hurray for May, I say. That's when so many of these flowers (that we've been stitching up all these many, many months) finally make an appearance in meadows, fields, and backyard gardens. It's also bloom time for the beautiful Pasque Flower (pulsatilla hirsutissima). This little lovely grows wild throughout South Dakota; one of the first signs of spring there. They are common in most of the U.S. and Canada, but not so much in the south east and east coast regions, but grow as far north as Alaska, so maybe some of you are starting to see them now...these small purple harbingers, living up to its motto "I Lead", which was attributed to it when it was adopted on May 5, 1903. This flower is also known as the May Day flower, the Prairie Crocus, Easter Flower, and Meadow Anenome. But given all that, it actually belongs to the buttercup family--and is highly toxic. My goodness, looks can be deceiving.
Well now. I actually have a little bit of a sewing project to share today. It seems like such a long time since I actually made something for the house, and although it's not a huge thing, it's something. Remember white violets on linen? Here's what has became of that little stitchery--it has been transformed into a new "spring" pillow sleeve, to replace winter. At long last. It does feel good to be looking at flowers again. In any form.
This was actually one of the winter projects that was featured in my book, Embroidery Craft:: Stitching Through the Seasons, under "Seasonal Pillow Sleeve" (pages 48-49), in case you are wondering how to make it; although it's pretty easy to work out just by looking. I found the wide gross-grain ribbon at a thrift shop some time ago. I loved the color and was waiting for just the right project to use it--I think it works perfectly here. Hand-carved mother-of-pearl buttons (made from abalone shells) are nice to display and enjoy on a pillow too. Because matching ones are rarities in my button box. So--a good way to use the "old maids". Besides, they add charm & character, don't ya think?
"Spring", as lovely as that word sounds, has bitter days. Today we huddle under dark skies, and more rain. I remind myself of the old adage, "April Showers Bring May Flowers". That's true enough, and so I'm patient. Gladys Taber once wrote that, "if spring came all at once we would probably die of it". Of this, I am convinced--remembering the pain and utter exhaustion following the first forays back into the garden. So, it arrives slowly--for our sakes. But today, dampness mingles with anticipation because it's Friday after all. Hurrah for Friday! That most lovely of weekdays to some of us, anticipating, as we do, the breaking with routine for a time. Or at least, a routine of a different sort--full of possibilities at any rate. And pancakes! (We seem to only cook them on Sunday mornings anymore.)
Anyway--rainy days and pancakes aside, we now move mentally to a warmer climate (where a wonderful and sunny spring normally arrives early and without delay), to New Mexico, #36 on the state flower quilt list---offering up the lovely Yucca (yucca glauca). This plant was adopted as the official flower March 14, 1927 after school children voted for it to represent their state. It is a member of the lily family, and can grow to the size of a small tree. The yucca's beautiful white blossoms are edible, and can even be ground up to make a type of candy. The fruits, seeds, stems, and sometimes even the roots are all edible. Early settlers who came to the deserts of New Mexico saw the lovely flowers and called them, "Our Lord's Candles".
As I recall, Yucca's have very sharp tips on the leaves. My "little brother" loves to remind me about the time I pushed him down a hill in a wagon, which he clumsily steered straight into one. Fortunately he survived to tell the tale. Again, and again--while showing off his "battle scars". We laugh about it now, but the horror of that moment will be etched in my mind for all of eternity. One of many that I was to experience in those growing up years with my dare-devil bro. He was fearless!
Off to the weekend we go. . .have a safe one!
COLORS: petals--white; shadow on petals--beige #612; stems--green #320; leaves--dk green #3346; letters #645.
Number thirty-five! Can you believe it? That means only fifteen more blocks to go. I'm seeing light at the end of tunnel. Oh yes I am. This has been a long project, I know--in more ways than one--and it's not over yet. Nope. I haven't even begun to sew the blocks together which are trimmed and at the ready. Actually, I'm still trying to decide which layout I like best. Fifty is an odd number of blocks for a traditional square or rectanglular quilt. No matter how you stack 'em up, there's always odd numbers that don't fit, or one left over! And you can't just add one without adding an entire row. And then it gets too long, or too wide. So it gets tricky if you are concerned at all about proportion. Which I am. Next week, I'll present the options I've come up with and you can weigh in on your favorite or throw out some ideas. And then I'll get rolling....
This block was fun for me because I like making French Knots. I know. Crazy. Not everyone's favorite stitch. It's fiddly. It takes time and patience to learn how this mysterious stitch is done. There are quite a few good tutorials on YT--I found this one to be clear and concise. If you absolutely cannot make a knot, then tiny satin-stitching will do fine. Try taking a stitch in one direction then stitching over it in the opposite direction for a padded effect. For the knots, I used three strands of floss, with two twists on the needle. It matters not whether you insert the needle back in, from above or below the thread. Sometimes, the angle in which you are holding your piece will determine which is easier. If you want perfectly uniform knots, always "wrap and dive" in the same direction. I staggered mine, for a more natural look. And just a little heads-up: there will be another block exactly like this one down the road. (Was that a loud groan heard coming from the peanut gallery?)
This little flower--it gets a bad rap. But Goldenrod (solidago altissma) has been a favorite among the state flower contenders from the start. It was selected many times by many states--only to be replaced and/or out-voted for others in the field. And this was even true for the state of Kentucky. However, it remained the flower of choice as a "native" plant despite it's wild flower reputation and was made official March 16, 1926. The bright yellow flowers dubbed, 'precaution' and 'encouragement' by LOTF prevail! They continue to grace roadsides in the fall, adding glorious spots of color to the landscape. Be they ever so humble.
A few years ago, we planted a magnolia tree on the premises and it has been a delight. In summer it produces wonderful large creamy blossoms that emit the most intoxicating lemony scent that calms and refreshes. But another thing I love about it, is the fact that it's an evergreen. Here in the northwest, when just about every other plant and tree goes dormant, the magnolia shines--with large glossy leaves. It's said to be hardy to zone 6. And they're deer proof! What more can I say?
One thing you should know before planting one though, is that magnolia grandifloras tend to develope surface roots over time that can crack sidewalks, driveways, and concrete patios--so location is important. We put ours (above) in a corner of the front yard where rain and ground water is abundant, as it drains down the slope. Magnolias do well in rich soil such as this, but will tolerate occasional drought; they just won't grow as quickly. I took this picture of our tree yesterday--it was planted three years ago (as a sapling) and seems to double in size each year--and will eventually reach a height of 25-30 feet tall. I'm counting the days until I can spread a quilt underneath it and have a summer picnic. (It is raining again today--so that will be awhile at any rate.)
A bit of history:: The magnolia was adopted as Lousianna's state flower July 12, 1900, but in 1941 a society was formed by a group of Louisanna Iris enthusiasts, and they proposed legislation in 1950 to replace the magnolia blossom with the Iris. The Iris supporters contended that the Iris could grow anywhere, and that the magnolia was not a native plant. Their argument did not stand however, and the magnolia remains as the official representative. (The Iris went on to become the state wild flower however, so everyone was happy.)