Wednesday, March 30, 2016


I'm supposed to be cleaning the house.  I'm hosting Book Club tomorrow and I really need to clean but instead of doing that I've been out for a long walk round our neighborhood with Tia (my greyhound).  It is a gorgeous day with the slightest of breezes and bright clear light.

As I walked I photographed shadows with my phone.  I must have looked very strange.  Tia certainly wasn't impressed at having her walk continuously interrupted! 

 I'm fascinated by shadows, their detail, clarity or lack of it and their intensity.  It is just another way of looking at light.  I think they are beautiful and they remind me of old faded black and white photographs. 

Walk with us.....

Find beauty not only in the thing itself but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides. Junichiro Tanizaki

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Vintage Telephone Pincushion

Here is what I've been working on for the last few days.  This is one of the new pincushion designs that has been rattling around in my head since the quilt show!  I've been trying to get my shop restocked but I really wanted to make something new.  New designs always take a little longer as the kinks get worked out along the way.

This is an original black vintage phone from the 1930's that I bought for my husband several years ago.  We have it plugged in (it works) in our family room and it has a lovely, very distinctive ring.  Added bonus, it works during power outages!  I know cell phones do too but this has way more style!

As usual, I began with sketches and notes which will be useful if I make this design again. There was no need for pattern pieces for this design because it is simply a black felt circle with holes over a white felt circle.  I cut the white circle a tiny bit smaller than the black one so that you won't see the white felt at the edges when it is put together.  

To make embroidering the numbers easier I lightly wrote the numbers with a very fine black pen and also did the white writing with white pen.  I usually do my embroidery without any markings but not letters or numbers like this. 

The side band is a smokey blue felt because it seemed to match the vintage feel and I appliqu├ęd white, pink and coral flowers and green leaves onto it.  I also added some french knot flower buds with a pale pink variegated embroidery floss.  

These are not yet listed in my shop as I only just took the photos but I'm hoping to add them by tomorrow.   

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Spring Fox

I don't know if foxes are still trendy, they don't seem to be on everything like they were a year or two ago, but this fox pincushion design always sells out at the shows that I do and in my shop.  

This pincushion was inspired by a fox we had in our garden a few years ago.  We always joke that our back fence is a critter highway.  The fence has a flat board near the top which makes a good walkway for wildlife.  We get possums, raccoons, squirrels, this fox and all the neighborhood cats walking along there!

The fox pincushion is back in stock in my shop and now I'm working on some antique clock face pincushions.  I have some new designs I want to work on but felt that I needed to get some of the favorites back in stock first.  After the clocks I'm hoping to tackle something completely new.  

Monday, March 21, 2016

Celebrating Spring

It was the first day of Spring a couple of days ago and although Spring isn't my favorite season, I am enjoying all the flowers and tree blossom (but not the resulting pollen!).

I'm hosting Book Club next week so I thought it was high time the Winter wreath I have over my mantel was replaced with something more appropriate!  Over the weekend I collected materials from Hobby Lobby and Michaels and this afternoon I put my new wreath together.

I wanted it to look like a woodland wreath, a little wild, like something you might find growing by a tiny stream.  I like to build on these grapevine wreaths because it is so easy to tuck in the wired stems.  I hot glued the little nest in place and also the moss around it but everything else is woven in.  

This photo (below) was taken last Spring up in the mountains.  While on a hike, we came across this tiny pool, just a few inches across, fed by melting snow and surrounded by soft mosses.  

The wreath is a good size, about 18inches across so it fills a good space over the mantel.  It makes me smile.  

In celebration of the lighter, warmer and more colorful season I made Caprese Salad for dinner last night.  It's my daughter's favorite salad and we had it with some delicious spicy homemade veggie burgers.  Trader Joes had some lovely mixed heirloom tomatoes that smelled really properly like tomatoes and some lovely fresh basil.  I added in some fresh mozzarella and a light dressing made with olive oil, a fragrant Meyer lemon from the garden, a touch of really good balsamic vinegar and some crushed garlic.   It was delicious.  

Friday, March 18, 2016

Finished Apple Blossom Pincushions

I got these pincushions finished up last night and photographed and listed in my shop this morning.  I'm very happy with this design, I love the pale blossom with the subtle variegated embroidery floss.  

You can find these pincushions in my Etsy Shop.  I'm going to be working to restock pincushions that I am sold out of over the next couple of weeks.  I have a bunch of new designs rattling around in my head but I'd like to fill up my shop a bit first.  New designs take longer to produce than existing designs.  

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Mixed Emotions

What a mixed morning it has been!  It began with a vague sense of dread as I had to go to the vet's office to pick up the ashes of our cat that we had had to euthanize a couple of weeks ago and pay my bill.  Everyone there has been so kind. When I got back into the car I found they had given me a box that contained her paw prints in clay and I was undone.  

That darn cat needed her claws trimming so badly but always fought us off and towards the end I found I couldn't put her through the stress of it!  There was a handwritten card too, and a heart shaped piece of paper embedded with wildflower seeds.  Such kindness.

Then I came home and made the decision to do some stitching instead of cleaning bathrooms.  I've been working on the apple blossom pincushions I posted about last time.  Last night I stuffed them and I just needed to close up the opening.  However there was something about them that was just bugging me.  I'd made a cute little red apple and some leaves for each side band but assembled, and in the light of day, they were too bright.  

With much frustration at myself for not making this decision at an earlier stage, I undid all the stitching, removed the stuffing and cut new sidebands with a branch and some apple blossom flowers and leaves.  I'd really wanted to use apples to differentiate this pincushion from my cherry blossom one but it didn't work out.  

So this is where I'm at now.  Two finished apple blossom and leaves side bands and the pincushion tops and bottoms all ready for assembly.  I'd hoped to get them in my shop today but I will finish them tonight and then photograph and list them tomorrow.  

After all that it was time to get outdoors and enjoy the gorgeous sunshine we have today.  I took Tia out for a walk, stopping at our little park to let her sniff around.  I often forget that it is only a short while since she has been off the race track and that many things are still new to her....dandelion seed heads for example.  She stopped to sniff one.  It made her sneeze violently resulting in an explosion of dandelion seeds!  She watched in awe as they wafted around her.  Now we are home, she has collapsed on her bed with a toy for a pillow, which she collected from wherever she left it, and took to her patch of sunlight.  Sweet dreams!


Monday, March 14, 2016

Apple Blossom Pincushion

I'm working on a couple of apple blossom pincushions at the moment.  They are inspired by the apple blossom in my garden and are a variation of my best selling cherry blossom pincushion.  This design features french knots which are my favorite embroidery stitch!  

These little stitches are often mistaken for tiny beads by customers at the shows I do, until they touch the pincushions!

Many people seem intimidated by french knots but I find the repetitive motion relaxing.  I think a common issue is tangled or knotted thread.  Some skeins of thread (I use primarily DMC threads) seem more prone to tangling than others.  I try to avoid tangles by letting the needle hang loose now and then while I'm stitching.  The weight of the needle untwists the thread.  If a skein is giving me particular grief, I use a thread conditioner (Thread Heaven).  

The thread I'm using for the apple blossom is this very pale variegated one.  It is very subtle and pretty and matches the shades of the blossom on my tree.

My cherry blossom pincushions, by comparison, have much pinker blossoms.  I use three shades of pink for that blossom.  The cherry blossom pincushions have felt flowers on the side band but for the apple blossom ones, I think I am going to make a little felt apple and some leaves. 

This is my cherry tree flowering beautifully this year.  

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...