Monday, July 30, 2007

Tart Them Up Any Way You Want

After being held hostage in SD1's room on Saturday, finishing up painting yet another wall, I put the brush down and refused to pick it up for the rest of the weekend. Don't get me wrong, I love painting; transforming my environment into something that reflects my style, taste and moods. However, let it be known that light blue in no way reflects anything of me. This was a concession to the SD's that light blue profanes my otherwise earth-toned house.
Anyhow. Sunday was a day of utter indulgence... a lovely long sleep-in followed by another berry bowl and a pot of really, really good coffee. Knit-blog surfing ensued, and in the afternoon, I launched myself into the sewing room and this happened.

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I know, this looks much the same as when it was draped over the needlework stand. You'll just have to take my word that it was three pieces of fabric at that time, and they were cut in half, sewn together in stripy goodness and seamed in the meantime. I used a French seam, which makes me feel clever every time I use it, and I also got in some good practice with my rolled hem foot for the side seams.

This is where this project ends, for now... although I convincingly attacked the closet doors with a variety of screwdrivers, I couldn't remove them. This obviously is a job for DH. It's a good thing we have a window of time from when he gets back to when the SD's fly back to the coop... I was hoping to have these rooms finished and ready to move back into when they arrive. (For now the curtains are tossed over the tops of the closet doors until DH rides to the rescue.)

I leave you with a whiff of pine. Obviously, I've decided to go for the tree... I think it's pretty, and as any good pagan will tell you, a tree is so obviously
not a Christian symbol. (I am not currently a pagan but I am not currently Christian, either, and didn't want to have a symbol in the house of something I don't necessarily believe in. Trees, though? Tart them up any way you want, and they're still a natural neutral.) Convoluted and confusing enough for you? :)

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mother's Day Project

I read a wide range of fabric arts blogs. Some days I'll just randomly follow links on a site and see where it will take me.
A few weeks ago, my random surfing took me here. The Mother's Day Project - one woman's attempt to help us all put a face to the losses of war; specifically, the female deaths.

This project has immediate meaning for me. I currently serve in the Canadian Armed Forces, my DH is deployed overseas, and I have lost friends in Afghanistan. Although we as Canadians fight in a different theatre, the human losses are not diminished by the lines between countries and causes. Our administrations and their justifications may be different, but the tragedies represented by these deaths go far beyond government policy.

The name I received belonged to a 19 year-old British medic, Eleanor Dlugosz. She of the bright blue eyes and infectious smile fell to a roadside bomb with four others on 5 April 2007. She loved her job and serving her country.

Eleanor, or Ella, or DZ to some, feels like a friend of mine after this project. Her happy smile, her hopes, her aspirations, her short life and meaningless death have left their mark on me as I stitch her name in remembrance.

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We remember, Ella.

Friday, July 27, 2007

And for Some Variety...

This heat, although I love it, is kicking me to the curb and it seems all I really want to do is sleep. I had a nap when I got home from work and then fell asleep in the rocking chair with the cat on my lap. I didn't feel like wading into anything too elaborate in the sewing room last night, but I knew I couldn't just curl up in bed at 8 PM and call it a night... that is *so* not me.

So I did something I haven't done for a while... worked on Project 4. Whaddya mean you don't know what that is??? Here, let me introduce you.

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(Project 4 is a rather old Dimensions chart called "Something in the Air", by wildlife artist Al Agnew. This is my second go at this one... the original was done (~12 years ago) on black Aida and graces my mom Janet's living room... this one is on linen and is for my husband.)

Yes, that's right... I spent last evening doing cross-stitch. Once my hobby of choice, it got a little lost in the fray when I learned quilting and then knitting. I have many beautiful stitching pieces I'd like to get finished, including one that's been 95% done for so long now you'll think I'm nuts when you see her later in 10 Projects.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Progress, Third Project

I spent a fun evening in the sewing room last night arranging flowers. I knew this would change the character of the quilt, but did you think it would look *this* good???

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No modesty here, eh?
You know, if I had known in advance how much of a PITA this quilt would be, I might have never attempted it... but looking at it now on the design wall, I am hella proud and glad that I stuck with it. Here's a close up of the appliqué:

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I'll quilt this down during the final stages, and that will change its character yet again.

While we're on a quilting roll, I'll introduce you to the third of the 10 Projects I am choosing.

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This sampler quilt was the result of the intermediate quilting course I took at The Quilter's Choice in Kingston... the quilting store nearest my heart and unfortunately too far away to visit regularly. It's destined to be a duvet cover, and the colours for our master bedroom were drawn from this quilt as an inspiration... which means I need to get off my butt and finish it. Fortunately, duvet season doesn't begin for a while yet.

The top is partially machine quilted; some stitch-in-the-ditch but I'd like to do something special in each of the 16 sampler blocks, a little free-motion goodness. Then it needs to find a back and some snaps to become a duvet cover. I'm really not far from completion on this, but when it's waiting patiently in line behind 30 other projects, well... let's just say, I'm glad I have y'all to keep me honest and focussed! :)

(Blogging idiocy note. When I import the photos from Photobucket, I get two photos and a blank box... I've been deleting a photo and the blank and just using a single photo- but I see now when I click on the blog to take a closer look at a photo, I get a "404 Not Found." I bet I'm not supposed to delete those... but what *do* I do with them?) (I bet this would be simpler in HTML, right?)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Blissful, Lazy Summer Days

I had a fabulous day today, with a wonderful breakfast outdoors, my fat cat lying in the cool (and admittedly too long) grass at my feet... there's granola and yogurt somewhere under those berries, I think! (the sprig of mint is from my own happy little herb garden.)

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I hung flower baskets around the yard on the fence... this is a powerful dose of petunia power for your Tuesday afternoon.

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I trawled through a fabric store and a yarn store with my girlfriend Lisa yesterday and was struck by inspiration. These closet doors are completely unworkable... you can't access any more then a third of the closet at any time and they're ugly as sin.

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DH had the wonderful idea of removing the doors and hanging curtains... I love the idea and yesterday found this fabric (reposing elegantly on my cross-stitch stand... the most use it's seen in a long while):

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Can you picture it? Can you see what I see? Isn't it GLORIOUS??? :) I hope these turn out as well as the picture in my head, 'cause I love it so far. You can probably tell by these colours that I have indeed decided to go with the green accent wall. I think it will be a heck of a fun room, and I can't wait to hear what SD1 has to say about it!!!

I've also test-painted a drawer in the French Roast yummy yummy dark brown. Pics when the paint dries... I'm loving that, too.

My head is about to implode from all the projects I have going right now! Just in case you think I've already abandoned the quilting... the appliqué flowers are ready to go on!

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Nesting Time!

I've always been a bit of a nester... but since my marriage, it's a little over the top. I have this need to transform an already lovely house into a living work of art. Through the use of paint and decor, I'm largely succeeding, though the work is far from done.

We celebrated our house's first anniversary just two weeks ago. It came unpainted, and that's been my largest task to date. Most of the main floor is finished, and I'm concentrating on the bedrooms now. I finished the master retreat just last weekend... check out this warm, cozy green and how well this twig mat sets it off.

The problem is (and anyone who has picked up a paintbrush with the best of intentions knows this) that as soon as you finish updating something, it may well make something else stand out glaringly in need of help. I thought I'd avoid that, it being a new house and all, but I got it anyhow, in this form:

In retrospect, I might have known that my dark emerald green furniture would clash hideously with dark moss green. Lord knows it does. Damn near stomach-turning, IMHO. We can't really splurge on new furniture right now, especially considering the emerald, though gaudy in colour, is in pretty good condition.

I propose to keep right on painting. Paint the furniture, too! Not dark green, though... a lovely, almost black espresso brown that will be lovely, neutral, and go smashingly with what we've got already. And as my mum Janet pointed out, that colour's in right now. Yay! I get to be trendy for two weeks of my life! :)

The other project in action is SD1's (step-daughter) room. She chose this light aquamarine blue, and it's quite lovely.

However, my girlfriend Lisa took one look at the room and suggested that I do one wall in an accent colour to liven up the somewhat sedate blue. I think she really could be on to something there, especially considering that these are SD1's drapes:

What do you think? One accent wall of lime green? Or leave the sleepy sedate blue right alone?

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Second Project

I know I said two days ago that socks are exempt from the game, but yet I choose a pair for the second project. However. There are socks, and there are SOCKS. These are a major work. However, they're almost a necessity... those who know me know my predilection for wearing skirts year-round, and let me tell ya, the legs, they get cold in the winter. Yummy merino hand-knit knee-highs are just what the doctor ordered.
I bought this yarn to knit them in:

(Louet Gems (Pearl), in Ginger.) (Doesn't even the name sound yummy??)

I'm fairly new to the sock knitting game. I've done two pairs with the traditional double-pointed needles, but am now taking a lesson from Cat Bordhi with my third pair... a delicious pair of Koigu Monkey socks for my mom (mom Linda, not mom Janet... she has yet to be visited by the sock fairy! :) ) Let's see if I can get a shot of those in here...

And a close-up, with much truer colour and a detailed look at the lace:

Anyhow. All that is to say that no matter how much of a challenge previous socks were, I think that Millicent will stretch me in all new ways. Bring it on!

Apologies for the rough photos. I have a few kinks to work out... :)

Apologies as well for the wildly fluctuating font/font size. I'm in the process of learning HTML to do this myself, 'cause it looks like the composer isn't always a sure thing, and it sure as heck ain't psychic.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Project the First

I think I'll go with the slow reveal on this "10 Projects"... er... project. Not only does it build up suspense for all (one) of you that are reading this, but it gives me fodder for at least 9 more posts. Honestly, it's what has kept me from trying this blog thing out for so long... the fear of setting up shop, throwing the doors open and announcing "I'm here!" to the world... and then having nothing to actually *say*. Now, I can't guarantee that's not going to happen, but you know you'll get at least a few more posts out of me before I fold like a cheap card table. :)

So. The first project that I will finish? "Oh Tannenbaum". This was a Block Of The Month club from Wilton Creek Fabrics in Harrowsmith, near Kingston. My hubby spotted it first, and directed my attention to it... I knew I had to do it.

The one thing I didn't count on was the log-cabin insanity. Dear lord... most of the quilt is assembled from 1 1/4" strips... which I found impossible to keep straight. I tried spray-starch, pinning every centimeter before sewing and every other trick I could try... and still ended up with untrue blocks. Finally, I blocked the blocks as one would a finished knitting project, pinning them precisely into the size they needed to be, soaking with water and then ironing the snot out of them. It sorta worked, but I am still hoping that a combination of appliqué and quilting will hide the wonky ones.

Here's how it looks so far:
(Completed size is 57" square.)

I think I'm about 80% done... I need to do the applique, the detailing (vines on the houses, candles on the non-existent tree) and then, the sandwiching, quilting and binding. All that sounds like a lot, but after 400,000 fiddly log cabin strips and intricate paper-pieced houses, I truly believe the worst is well over. (I am indeed an optimist, why do you ask?)

The big ole' tree in the center gives me pause, though... I'm not particularly into Christmas and didn't even realize this was a Christmas-themed quilt until I got the first pack in the mail. (Don't ask me how I missed it, especially considering the name. Clearly, my powers of observation aren't what they could be.) I might substitute out the tree for a more neutral poinsettia wreath. I'll certainly play with that element before committing.

So that's project number one. It has a place of honour all picked out for it, and a correspondingly blank wall where it belongs, and that makes it a bit of a high priority for me.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Peer Pressure Strikes Again

After resisting the pull for years, I have finally decided to set up a cozy little home on the WWW. Let's blame Velda for that, shall we? She can drop some mean hints!

I think one of the final straws was the "10 Projects" challenge I saw on her site.I am a multidisciplinary crafter with my fingers in perhaps 40 different projects... some WIP's, some not even started yet. I need to pare down a little, but I completely lack the self-control to do so... often being pulled into yarn-buying sprees online at 10 at night. This must stop!!!

So. The rules as I understand them. Pick 10 projects and stick with 'em until they're done. No buying new materials for other projects until ALL 10 are off the plate... though buying materials to facilitate THE 10 is fair game.

I am in. I can do this... with one exception. Socks. They're light, quick and portable... they fit in the purse and allow me to use lunch-hours and queue-lines more efficiently. Aside from normal, every-day sock knitting, the game is on.

I need to compile the list now. I want something from every WIP pile... some crochet, some knitting, some quilting and some cross-stitch. I must think about this... :)