Thursday, August 31, 2006
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
I seem to remember an old-time movie called "The Day of the Killer Tomatoes". I don't remember the entire story but I do know a modern version of that I think covers most of it:
Once upon a time, in a land far away, a princess lived with her prince. One day, the prince brought his modest tomato harvest from his fields. The princess lovingly made the meager harvest into stewed tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, and salsa, so that they would have a well-stocked larder in time for the bitter winter which had been predicted. When the prince lamented that his farming skills were poor and he was worried they would not have enough to last, the princess reassured the prince that they would be well-fed over the winter, that he needn't worry and that he shouldn't seek any more tomatoes. The princess was happy with the first batch but she really didn't like all that work! The very next day, the prince bought home FIVE 5-gallon buckets of tomatoes, which he claimed had been given to him by one of their neighbors. Although a little out of sorts about the prince's decision to accept this large quantity of tomatoes due to the amount of work involved in the task, especially after she'd so kindly asked him to refrain, the princess set about the next day cleaning them, skinning them, and making them into all sorts of sauces and such. The next day she rested. On the day after that, and unbeknownst to the princess, the prince ran into the neighbor who was mowing his fields. The prince told the neighbor that he and the princess were so appreciative of the neighbor's fine tomatoes and that the princess seemed to enjoy this type of work. The neighbor responded by giving the prince FIVE more 5-gallon buckets of tomatoes, which he gleefully brought back to show the princess. The princess greeted the prince at the door and spotted the tomatoes. The prince was never seen again and the princess lived happily ever after.
The above picture shows what FIVE 5-gallon buckets of tomatoes look like!
Sunday, August 27, 2006
It's hard to imagine but this shop model went through the mail. It is called Mail Art. So, what is Mail Art anyway? You have heard of it, but are not quite sure what to make of it! Basically, Mail Art is sending a stitched envelope through the mail. But, once you try it, you will find it is so much more. For me, it is the thrill of opening up the mailbox, rifling through the bills and the junk mail, and pulling out a wonderful stitched treasure from another creative spirit. It is also the anticipation that my creation may provoke a similar reaction across town, across the country, or even across the globe!
This particular design is the one I have taught for various shops, groups, and guilds. It includes all there is to know about making and mailing a stitched envelope, including an easy hand-stitched method for assembling the envelope itself. It is a great technique for embroiderers who generally do not like to use a sewing machine.
Since I made my first envelope as part of an exchange, I have mailed and received about 20 envelopes. All have made it through the mail with great success.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
In 2004, my nephew, James, eloped with his long-time girlfriend, Jill. Upon hearing their news, I asked Jill to peruse the Drawn Thread website to see if she could choose a design they both liked, that I could stitch as a wedding sampler. She chose Marriage of the Minds. How apropos! James and Jill attended St. John’s College, Annapolis, MD, where their undergraduate work was wholly devoted to the study of the classics. So fitting because the sampler’s motto is derived from Shakespeare’s Sonnet CXVI, which speaks of the commitments of love and marriage:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
It this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Originally designed to commemorate a 20th wedding anniversary, the design includes some traditional symbolism in the motifs used. Some of my favorites are:
Cranes - longevity and good fortune
Owls - wisdom and loyalty
Deer - longevity, peace, and compassion
Birds - honor, honesty, conjugal fidelity and good fortune
Hearts - love, soul and spirit
House - stability, the seat of the soul, the place one returns for comfort, protection & rest
Trees - strength, durability and steadfastness in adversity
Clouds - good fortune, happiness and peace
Butterflies – joy and longevity
Dragonflies – marital success, victory
Bees – hard work and industriousness
Rabbits – fertility and family
James’ mother, Susan, will be delivering the framed sampler to them soon and I can’t wait to hear how they reacted! I wish them many tempestuous years together!
Friday, August 25, 2006
Hardanger is a Swedish form or embroidery, traditionally done white on white. Many years ago, I learned to do this technique through a group correspondence course I took with the Bucks County Chapter of the Embroiderers Guild of America. I fell in love with it because it is a counted thread technique, goes fairly quickly, is very rhythmic, and is quite portable. A few years ago, I started teaching a 4-part series on hardanger, relying on the Basics and Beyond book by Janice Love. This large sachet design , mounted on a custom-made, blue moire pillow, is the class model.
A quaker motif was used for this needle book. In the Spring of 2006, I taught this finishing technique - making a "hardback" book with a spine - at a Stitcher's Day for the House of Stitches in LaPorte, IN. The red version was stitched over two, using an over-dyed floss for the stitching and pearl cotton for the two-color cording. Its overall size is 6" over 6", which leaves plenty of space for needles.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
A few of my friends have suggested that I put up more pictures of my completed embroidery. This finish, called, Fragrant Hearts, was designed and taught by Lauren Sauer last year at the Indianapolis EGA. I took the class with my friend, Joyce, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. Lauren had us pre-stitch the five hearts, all done in lovely and luscious silks. We learned the finishing techniques during class and Lauren gave us a bunch of dried lavender to stuff the 4 largest hearts. The remaining heart - which is only about 1" in diameter, is filled with white seed beads. The hearts are strung together with a light pink organdy ribbon. It would be sweet to hang this ornament on bed post.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
We have a lovely quilt shop in Marion, IN, about 20 minutes from my home. Although I am not a quilter, I do love going there to buy materials for embroidery projects and finishing. They often have classes for projects that are either non-quilting (like the ever-so-popular bags) or semi-quilting, like the padded envelope I just finished. It was designed by a woman I know from the Hartford City Garden Club. Its original purpose was for the quilter to store her quilt blocks. It is 14" x 14", machine quilted on the back and pieced on the front. You could also quilt the front, after the piecing was done, but I opted out of that since I was so busy just learning how to do the rest of the project. During this class, I learned how to use the correct attachments to do the machine quilting on the back. Other techniques included the installation of the binding, mitering the corners and matching the point at which the binding beginning and end come together. I don't know what it will be used for but I was so happy to be able to insert the small blackwork sampler in the front, as it was my oldest UFO and knowing it had to be done for this class compelled me to finish it!
So, I think this small blackwork sampler is as old as my youngest daughter, who is about to turn 21. I took it as a hands on class with my EGA guild in Bucks County, PA, when I lived there. The stitching is called blackwork, which is completely reversible. Because it is actually reversible, I had wanted to mount in some way that it could be seen from both sides. That is probably why it took me 21 years to decide what to do with it. In the end, I so wanted it to be on the quilted envelope, that I just "drop-mounted" it and you cannot even see the back at all. Other techniques I learned with this piece were mitering corners for the hem and the hemstitching. It is a sweet little piece and I am glad now that it has someplace to call home, instead of in a box in my cellar!
This is a bellpull made for a Nova Scotian friend, Sally. It was stitched, round robin style, by the Hoosier Stitchers, who also funded the cost of the materials. Designed by a fellow Canadian, Thea Deuck, of the Victoria Sampler, it is called "Seaside Sampler". It was chosen for Sally because she loves lighthouses and her husband is a lobster fisherman/ Sally is an beloved member of the Hoosier Stuttgart and usually attends our retreat in September. Unfortunately, she cannot be with us this year so we hope she is reminded of us when she sees this gift.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
So, Matt and Susanne visited and fell in love with our dog, MacKenzie. She loved them, too. Shortly after this picture, Matt left for his flight home. He flew from Marion, Indiana, to Ohio, then from Ohio to New Jersey, and then a drive home to Pennsylvania. Thanks Matt for leaving my baby sister here with me for a few days!
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Several months ago I visited my long time friend, Donna, in Pennsylvania. Donna and I started stitching about the same time - believe it or not - about 20 years ago. When I visited her this time, however, I discovered that she'd mastered knitting and had made herself a lovely knitted and felted bag. I had never been able to knit and I really coveted that bag. It was a lovely green and has some really cool fringey stuff at the top. When I returned home, I toyed with the idea of learning how to knit just so I could make one of those bags but I abandoned that idea when I saw them for sale in different shops. The ones I saw were not nearly as nice, they were not the right color, they were not the right size or shape, and they were hideously expensive. So, I just kept looking.
Soon I got a message from Donna telling me to look for a package in the mail. When it arrived, I was so surprised to see the most gorgeous knitted and felted bag. Made with the most beautiful wools, it is a very generous size. Had I picked out the fibers myself, I would have picked the same ones! I could not believe how generous Donna was to make it for me and I simply can't wait for it to be cold enough for me to start carrying it. Isn't it nice to have such a talented and thoughtful friend?
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Matt and Susanne are flying to Indiana today. They left KMMU Airport (Morristown, NJ) at 10:06 a.m. and arrived at KLBE Airport (Arnold Palmer Airport in Latrobe, PA) at 12:01 p.m. We have been following their plane's progress using www.flightaware.com, which uses the plane's tail number N8154M and GPS (global positioning system) to track the plane's progress.
Monday, August 07, 2006
This is my latest embroidery finish. It is a tooth fairy pillow for my niece, Skylar. Her bedroom is decorated with lavender, pink, and yellow colors, with curtains made from Disney fabric. I chose the embroidery design and Sklyar chose the colors for the design. Every time I see her she reminds to me I have to get her fairy pillow finished. She is 5 now and probably has some loose teeth already!
I made the finished pillow look sort of like a purse with the ruffled ribbon at the top of the pillow, although it is not open at the top. There is a pocket on the back of the pillow to put the baby tooth and for the tooth fairy the leave the $$.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
This Summer, my daughter, Maggie, decided she wanted to sell fresh salsa at a Farmer's Market. There is a small market in a town near my home and we registered as vendors at the start of the season for $25.00. Since then, she and I have been selling Salsa Magrita (mild and medium), Cici’s Magnificent Cheese Spread, Grand Granola, and various yummy cookies. I have enjoyed these Saturday mornings, getting to know many local people (vendors and customers). It is fun shopping and visiting at the Farmer's market and, of course, it is especially enjoyable spending time with Maggie.
The Farmer's Market is organized by an energetic group of people who live in Warren, IN. Although Warren is a teeny-tinsey little town, it also boasts the the very popular Pulse Opera House (www.pulseoperahouse.org), the enjoyable Salamonie Summer Festival, the lively Labor Day Tractor Pull, and a well-attended Fall Arts Festival.
The setting for the Farmer's Market is close to the downtown area but overlooks a tranquil pond which is surrounded by a lovely wooded area. The use of this spot was donated by a local businessman. Other local businesses donated a huge, sturdy tent to provide us with good shelter, a big canvas banner to announce the market's hours, and a roadside chalkboard on which the day's offerings are spotlighted in colorful letters. On most market days, a local music teacher provides live music!
There are between 8 and 10 vendors at the market each week. There are two "anchor" stores. Katherine and Ike, a husband and wife team, run a bakery from their home. In addition to supplying various local restaurants with home-baked goodies, they also run a brisk business at the farmer's market every Saturday. Their customers come early and buy a lot - old-fashioned pies such as gooseberry and sugar cream, rich apple dumplings, and delicious breads and dinner rolls. A considerable amount of traffic is generated by the other anchor store, which is staffed by the members of The Plum Tree Church. They sell fresh produce, canned items, and a few crafts. In between, there are smaller vendors who sell beef jerky, Angus beef, homemade canned jams, jellies, and relishes, fresh herbs, refinished furniture, plants, craft items, and the freshest of produce. Each week another vendor appears, as the Indiana crops ripen - corn last week, cantaloupes this week.