Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Beautiful Blues

Several years ago I bought and read the book "Color" by Victoria Finlay.  She also has a similar book about the history of jewels which is equally fascinating.  In "Color" Finlay describes the history of different colors as she travels around the world exploring the sometimes dangerous places that various pigments originated (the chapter about blue takes her to Afghanistan).  You can easily read a chapter over breakfast and the book is full of interesting stories and nuggets of information.  

Five minutes before I had to go out yesterday, I found myself walking round the house noticing the shades of blue.  With my phone, I quickly snapped a bunch of pictures -  I love my iPhone camera!  Clearly there is quite a bit of this blue/green in my house, in photo albums, my china cabinet and wardrobe, in my fabric stash and family room and even in the pile of books on my coffee table.

When I need color inspiration, I often turn to Design Seeds.  I am subscribed to their emails and so everyday, I get a shot of color in my in-box!  They take a beautiful photograph and identify the main colors in it.  This leads to some beautiful color combinations.  Here are a few green/blue Design Seeds color boards I found on Pinterest.  I hope you have a colorful day!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tree And Birds Pincushion

Last week I cut out the tree trunk, top, bottom and sideband for this pincushion and over the last few days I've been stitching it.

The leaves are cut from the above pile of wool felt and felted wool fabrics.  There are several shades of green and the felt and felted wool both have slightly different textures.  I chose yellow for the sideband and red for the underside.  There are a lot of vibrant colors in the garden at the moment and I think that has influenced my color choices. 

You can find this pincushion listed in my shop here.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Alpaca Pincushions

I finished two alpaca pincushions today and have listed one in my shop.  I can't tell you how much these make me smile!  I shared my quick sketches for this design in my last post but in preparing for those sketches, I spent time on Pinterest looking for cute pictures of alpacas.  Try going onto Pinterest and searching for "alpaca pictures" or "cute alpacas".  You won't be disappointed!  These pictures came from such a search.

I bet you're smiling now right?!

And almost as if the stars were aligned my daughter pointed out that we had just bought a little alpaca from Cost Plus World Market just a couple of days previously.  He stands on her nightstand and is called Jorge.

I love the texture that the french knots give this pincushion.  This one is ready for stuffing.

You can find this pincushion listed here.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Sketches For New Pincushion Designs

This has been another busy week.  Amidst the craziness that is everyday life, I've been working on some new pincushion designs.   For a while now I've been thinking about doing another french knot design.  I enjoy making my cherry tree pincushions.  I just find sewing french knots very soothing!  I wondered about something with a sheep but then it hit me, an alpaca.  Alpacas are such ridiculously cute looking creatures and I think an embroidered one could work well.  

At the same time, I've found myself drawn to a tree sketch that I did ages ago.  I can picture a tree with appliqu├ęd leaves in lots of different shades of green felt and with four little brightly colored birds perched in it.  

I've got the felt ready for both projects and today I have a chunk of time at home so I plan to sew and continue catching up on season 3 of Call The Midwife on netflix before season 4 four premiers in a week or so.  

Monday, March 16, 2015

Baby Quilt Progress

As I've been piecing and basting this baby quilt, it struck me that it has been a really long time since I've made a quilt!  I've deliberately kept this quilt simple, just squares and a border, because I want it to be used and loved every day then thrown in the washer and dryer and used and loved some more.  Plus, I'm out of practice!  Today I basted the quilt.  This task is my least favorite part of the process of quilt making!  As you can see, I pin baste.  

This shark is not only friendly, as noted in a previous post, but is clearly relishing his temporary nose/lip piercing!  

I LOVE my walking foot.   It was an expensive splurge but I use it nearly all the time.  I like to piece with it as well as quilt with it and also use it for regular sewing projects too.  

In keeping with my keep it simple plan and also bearing in mind the current popularity of geometrics, I made the decision to quilt with straight lines.  I have quilted every other column with lines of stitching that are fairly close together.  The lines are not quite as perfectly spaced as I might of liked!  I also did the same to the border.  This kind of dense quilting creates a really nice drape.

Now I'm ready to add the binding.  My current plan is to go with an orange binding for a pop of extra color.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Walk On The Beach

Today my daughter and I drove to Marina State Beach, which is just a little north of Monterey, for a walk on the sand and to look for beach treasure.  There wasn't even a whisper of marine layer, the sun was shining and there was just a light breeze.

At first we though the ocean was calm, because the color was an even deep green and it looked flat, but then as we watched, an even deeper green line appeared a little way out.  It lengthened, rose up and broke in a translucent arch of minty green and white froth, the curl of the wave chasing some imaginary sea creature up the bay.  Sometimes when the waves do this you can see dolphins or seals in the wave because the water is so clear.  We walked nearly 5 miles in total but didn't realize we gone that far!  Watching the waves was hypnotic and when we weren't doing that we were searching for shells and sea glass.

This was the best kind of beach walk, we didn't have to share the sand with anyone.  We walked a long way and barely saw anyone (they were all congregated near the carpark!).  We found lots of sand dollars, some with these wonderful pink barnacles attached but only a couple of pieces of sea glass.  We got pretty wet when a wave surprised us!  

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Farmers Market Purchase

Each Saturday there is a Farmers Market in our town and whenever we can, we try and go. We stock up on fresh local produce, honey, goat cheese and fresh fish.  Today I got thick stalks of asparagus, fragrant strawberries and the sweetest carrots you will ever taste. I also bought a handmade hemp bag with hand stenciled white stripes!  There is something about this color combination that I find very appealing.  It is earthy and simple looking but refined and beautifully finished.  It is an honest bag, made with care and sustainable materials.

Most of the towns around here no longer allow stores to give you plastic bags to put your purchases in.  You can purchase a paper bag for anywhere between 10 - 25cents.  This really annoys me.  The money goes to our city, it is like another tax and no-one seems to know what the money gets used for.  I understand and support the no plastic bag idea but not the extra income for the city.  Anyway, as a result of this sometimes irritating but well meaning ban, I'm always on the lookout for nice bags!  This one is soft and beautifully made with a nice interior pocket.  It feels sturdy too.  I'm looking forward to putting it to use.

I had a good chat with the guy working the market stall.  He is one of the designers/makers and lives and works in Carmel which is just south of Monterey.  He had a noticeable British accent despite living on the East Coast for many years and here for the last three so we had something in common!   Visit his website to see and learn more.  

Friday, March 13, 2015

A Great Aunt

This week I became a Great Aunt!  Amid all the hard stuff that life throws your way, a new baby is something very special and precious.  I'm excited to be a Great Aunt and looking forward to teasing my sister with some Grandmother references!  

One of my very informal, and not very long-lasting resolutions for the new year, was to make at least one quilt this year.  A baby quilt hardly counts really, it is so small and this one will be very simple, just squares and a border.  This is my palette.  

I got the fish fabrics at a local quilt shop yesterday.  They are from Timeless Treasures.  I love the combination of the deep blues with the grey and pale solid colors.  The solid colors are from American Made.  I came across this company a few months ago.  Their fabrics are made from start to finish, here in the US from US grown cotton.  The color range is vibrant and they feel really nice.  I'm looking forward to sewing with them.  You can check them out here.  

These fishes, swimming in circles, remind me of the anchovies we saw doing exactly this at the Monterey Bay Aquarium!

And these are definitely friendly sharks!

The quilt will have 3 inch squares and a border.  I think I will make it about 36 inches square and do some straight line quilting on my sewing machine.  A baby quilt needs to be able to take some abuse.  Keeping it simple means it will get used and hopefully loved.  

Stitch-along part 6

  Stitching the ridge tiles to finish the ornament Take one ridge tile and wrap it over the ridge of the roof as shown below.  Using two str...