Friday, February 26, 2010

Play time

I got a package in the mail last night. The signature blocks from The Lady of Steeles Hand Embroidery group swap :) We originally started out with about 26 of us but the numbers eventually decreased to 19. Now I just have to decide what kind of quilt I want to make my blocks into. The photo shows the blocks laid out as they came out the package. Now I get to "play"with the arrangement for a while.
This block belongs to Barbara our "long suffering" swap hostess. She dedicated almost 8 months to keeping us on track, moving along and on occasion getting very strict in her own special way :)
To everyone that participated, Barbara, Deb, Cat, Marion, Donna, Wanda, Gloria, Arlene, Alva, Dixie, Denise, Latha, Shasta, Patti, Janice, Candji, Linda and Kathryn  a big THANK YOU. I love the blocks and am looking forward to seeing all the finished results.
Countries and States represented - Australia, India, Saudi Arabia, Tennessee, Texas, Idaho, Missouri, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, Washington, New York, Michigan and North Carolina

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tutorial - Feathered Star

No I'm not doing the tutorial but I need to learn how to make the block for my Grandma's Best Blocks project so I'm sending you to One Piece at a Time  She has done a step by step tutorial that I think I might even be able to tackle :) She also has a short cut tut.
Fabric triangles and I are not best friends what with my "all thumbs" disposition for sewing small pieces together but I shall overcome !!!!!! I better had given all the triangles I have to make in my project :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Scots Corner - The Thistle

The Thistle is Scotland's national flower. Let's change that a wee bit here. It's a wild flower and in some people's opinion - a prickly, icky ...... weed. The real Scottish thistle flower is somewhat small and I was told years ago that what we see in photographs is the more robust, prettier, French Thistle.
Whatever it looks like and however people feel about it, this lovely purple creation has been Scotland's emblem for close to 700 years. It can grow to 8 feet tall and because of all the sharp prickly leaves is left well alone by everything with any sense :)
How did the thistle become a national emblem? As with most things because of a battle (Largs 1263) in which one of the opposition, trying to creep up on the Scots during the night stood on a thistle and let out a mighty yelp. Well if they will sneak around in their bare feet it's no wonder.
Mary Queen of Scots was an outstanding needlewoman and often used the thistle in her embroidery. Legend has is that after her death at Fortheringhay Castle in 1587 thistles sprung into bloom every summer.
The symbol of the thistle shows up in many ways, clothing, jewelry, money, drinking vessels, broadswords, tapestries, monuments, poetry, paintings, porcelain etc.
The highest honor in Scotland is to receive the Order of the Thistle which was founded in 1540 by King James V.

And now good people I'm off to watch more of the Olympic curling. Japan ladies are currently leading the USA ladies.  And the arena is erupting - Canada just beat Switzerland.

Monday, February 15, 2010

When is a blog of the week not a blog of the week?

When I spotlight an event we went to at the week-end.
It was our wedding anniversary at the week-end. Yep, one of the many thousands that have been married on the 14th :)
We went to see Jim Brickman and Friends in concert with the Nashville Symphony. Definitely a good time, romantic event. Lots of fun. This event was part of his Beautiful World Concert Tour.
He also linked into the Olympics. Some of his compositions are used for the background music when highlight spots are being aired. He also co-wrote some of the music for the Salt Lake games.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Itajime is a really fun and creative way to learn resist dying. The group I was with did a cotton bandana in the morning and a long silk scarf in the afternoon. The first and second pictures show some of them hanging up to dry. The bottom photograph is what DD#3 and I created with the cotton. Hers is the blue/black, mine is the blue/yellow. I think everyone did extremely well in the class and we all learned a lot.
So what is Itajime? Basically it is clamp bound resist dying from the Japanese "Shibori" style that originally used carefully folded fabric, dyes, boards and string. We used acrylic shapes and clamps.
1. Damp fabric is very carefully folded.
2. Acrylic shapes are clamped tightly in place on both sides of the fabric to act as the "resist"
3. Dye is "painted" onto the fabric in whatever areas you want colored. (wearing long plastic gloves is highly recommended from this part to the end.)
4. The fabric is steamed for 5-7 minutes in a large metal kettle.
5. With clamps still in place, rinse most of the excess color out under very hot water.
6. Unclamp the piece and unfold the fabric.
7. Gently "agitate" your piece in cold soapy water to set everything
8. Rinse in cold water , squeeze out the excess water and hang up to dry.
Hopefully I did not miss a step :)
The cotton takes much longer to rinse out than the silk.
The really nifty part of this whole process is unfolding the finished fabric to see what design will emerge.   Each piece is unique and lovely.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Local Life - Appalachian Center for Craft

If you go over the river, up a hill or two, and through the woods you get to the Appalachian Center for Craft near Smithville.
I went there last Friday as a chaperone with a group of students from Hillwood High School. The weather was iffy i.e heavy rain and fog which did not lend well to decent outside photography. The group I was with changed from pinhole photography to Itajime resist dying. Three other groups spent the day focusing on blacksmithing, glass bead making or glass etching. I have to tell you I was impressed with the facility, the teachers, the tour AND the fact that the students obviously had a good time.
visiting the wood shop

Itajime how to and some samples

During the summer there are workshops that count toward college credit.
On April 10 there will be a Craft Celebration. They are looking for volunteers for the day to teach classes or assist in the Kid's Craft area. If you are interested please contact Noreen Grisolano (the lady showing the wood bowl above) at 931-858-2833 or

One of the interesting parts of the tour was watching some of the students at the glass blowing furnaces. One vase was about done and looking lovely when all of a sudden it fell off it's mounting and smashed to smithereens on the floor. Too bad. 
Noreen gave us a very enthusiastic history of the kilns on the grounds and explained the working processes for each one.
Tomorrow I'll tell you a bit about Itajime and show you some of the pieces made by the students :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Winter time - Mini Quilt swap - a sneak peak :)

This is the bottom left hand corner :) I'm almost done. Just got to decide how to finish off the edges and whether I want to add in more machine stitching.

Some of my recent fabric postcards

Landscape - "View From the Sun"

Geometric - Fabric Weaving

Geometric - Fabric Weaving


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Scots Corner - The Lady of the Lake is where?

There's a beautiful area in the Trossachs called Loch Katrine. It's the main drinking water source for Glasgow so strict guidelines are in place as to what can and cannot happen there. Queen Victoria did the honors of "turning the handle" in 1859. Originally is was considered a remote area to visit until "The Lady of the Lake" by Sir Walter Scott was published in 1810. The loch was the central location of the poem, based on older Arthurian legends. The painting "Landscape with a Tourist at Loch Katrine" by John Knox was inspired by the poem.
Tourists, and locals, can take a pleasant boat ride on the screw-driven steamer SS Sir Walter Scott which has been sailing round the loch since 1920. If you enjoy hill climbing then there is a grand view looking down on the loch from Ben A'an.
For all US born natives - did you know that "Hail To The Chief" was inspired by the poem?
For more background information about the poem visit

Monday, February 8, 2010

Blog of the week - Polka Dot Pineapple

ALOHA. Arlette or "Lettie" from Hawaii has a lovely blog with great tutorials that I have been visiting, on and off, since last summer.
It's a fun blog to read and I enjoy her sense of humor.
At the moment I am re-reading all the pincushion tutorials she has since I am participating in a pincushion swap. The photograph shows her "Heart to Heart Valentine" pin/brooch which seems appropriate for the month of February :)
As part of my learning how to do fabric origami I'm going to try making her folded hexagon yo-yo. You can find that tutorial, along with the others, in her sidebar. (Very convenient). The project I am really intrigued by is the wire edged flowers. Now if I could just get me and my "all thumbs" fingers to cooperate with liquid glue then maybe I might tackle that one :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Some recent postcard additions

From some of the ladies at Postcard Pizzazz
Landscape - Ildika
Circles - Mary and Maureen
Stress Free - Cindy (2) and Pam

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Scots Corner - Carry A Poem 2010

There's an interesting event called Carry a Poem, going on in Edinburgh at the moment. Their City of Literature reading campaign started on the 1st and will run all month. Lots of events are planned and thousands of books and poetry pocketcards will be given away (presumably to the locals).
Visit to find out more.

So what is your favorite poem and when were you introduced to it? What memories does it bring back to you? Do you carry it around with you and how?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Snow Day

Blog of the week - Cherry Hill Cottage

Every so often the "happily retired" interior designer in me still needs to go check out what is happening in "that" part of the planet,  blog wise. Tina at is fun, bright and cheerful AND she has a loooong list of design links that I am slowly working my way through. Design wise I think I would call Tina's style "fun vintage". Her sister Kathy does "pretty country".
I openly confess to liking Tina's recipes (check out her pineapple upside down cake)  and that sweet dog of hers could just melt your heart :)