Thursday, July 16, 2015

July CQJP 2015 - Experimenting with Crochet

This month I have been extending my familiarity with crochet.  The first time I tried crochet was when I was expecting my 2nd child.  That was in 1973!  I crocheted a jacket, bonnet and booties to bring him home in.  When I was getting ready to deliver they said I was having twins and my first thought was how I would possibly be able to get another set done in time and where would we fit another crib.  We do have twins in our family but that was not the time to get the news.  They were wrong.  The second heart beat they heard on the monitor was mine.  Our son weighed in at 9 lb 12 1/2 oz. which is part of the reason they jumped to the conclusion there were twins.  He wore a triple E shoe, so the booties I worked so hard to complete didn't fit him anyway.  I picked up a crochet hook maybe twice since then to make something really simple.

Back on point...  When I think of crochet I think of baby things, so here is my block complete with a baby dress and bonnet.

July Block - A study in crochet

I had already decided to work on the pink block this month since I had 3 granddaughters (and a pink hanger).  I found a pattern online that looked like one I could follow.  I actually found it through www. who shared a link for this pattern by Maxine Gonser.  Here is the LINK.   Maxine's blog can be found here.

Since it had been so long since I had crocheted, I decided to try this full size with nice big needles and what little yarn I had on hand.  I discovered once I looked at the actual directions for the double stitch that I was doing the double stitch wrong.

Next I made it smaller by reducing the size of fiber, crochet hook and number of stitches.  I got the double stitch right this time.

Used up all that yarn so I tried it with some variegated thread.  I wasn't so crazy about it so didn't finish.  It was too big for my block anyway.

Sized it down some more.  Close.  I think this would be a good size for an ornament or gift tag.

Finally got it the size I wanted.  I altered the pattern slightly to get it the way I wanted.  I added a little ribbon and floral trim and then made a bonnet using similar shell stitches and border.

Closeup of baby dress and bonnet.

Below you can see the initial attempts in relation to the final size.

When I got the baby things the size I wanted I tried a few other patterns.  

Cluny lace (one of my favorite laces)

Fillet crochet

Doily medallion pattern.  Several of these are used to make a bed spread.

Dimensional butterfly pattern found online.

A flower which appeared when I messed up the last round trying to make the dimensional butterfly above.

I have to say I am really enjoying my journey this year.  I keep wanting to jump ahead to other techniques or skills I've wanted to try and this keeps me disciplined, devoting more time to each. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Crazy Quilt Owl Block

I created an owl block at the request of Pamela Kellogg for her Autumn 2015 magazine publication.  I was so excited, yet nervous, when she asked me to do one.  She only asked that it be in fall colors and include an owl and maybe fall leaves.  That gave me a good starting point yet left me lots of room to play.  I thought I would share the full block along with some close-ups with you now since she has made the cover public.

Final Completed Owl Block

For those of you who did not see the announcement, below is the image of the cover of her upcoming magazine featuring my block.  The magazine will be available August 1 which is just around the corner.  Her blog is where you will find some beautiful work and a link to order this magazine or her previous publications.  Click HERE.

Final block used for Pamela Kellogg's publication

Planning my block:

Since the main subject of the block was to be an owl I had to first decide how I wanted to incorporate the owl.  Options included doing an outline stitch or use an embroidery pattern stitched directly onto the block, find a silky with an owl feature, paint an owl onto fabric, or (the option which I chose) to stitch onto felt.  I actually chose the latter because I have wanted to try this technique and because the icon could then be moved around to find a favorable placement.  The other options were pretty permanent once stitched.  I cut out a silhouette of an owl I had drawn to check the size and play with placement.

Planning owl size and placement
Here is the owl which I stitched, both front and back.

My final stitched owl

The back side of stitched owl (not so pretty)
Below is the placement I chose at which point I began adding decorative embroidery stitches.

Placement of owl
I then used some leaves from a silk flower arrangement to decide on leaf placement before I actually stitched them in place.  I sort of wish I would have used the same technique for the leaves that I used on the owl...but I didn't.  I think they would have showed better and I would have had more options for placement.

Planning placement of leaves
At this point (below) I had all the seams treated and the owl, branch and leaves stitched.  I could have called it done at that point, but kept thinking it looked a bit blah and uninteresting.

Completed version one
So I kept are some close-ups:

seam close-up

Seam close-up

Button cluster and owl close-up


Spider and web close-up

Trailing vine close-up

Shibouri ribbon floral

This was my first attempt at using Shibouri ribbon.  The colors were perfect and I love the texture and dimension it adds.  Below again is the completed block.  I was glad I continued to add details as I think it adds so much more interest without taking away from the focal point, don't you?

Finished block

Although this wasn't part of my CQJP 2015 journey, I learned new things and I will definitely use the stitched felt technique on future blocks.  I will also use the Shibouri ribbon again.  Now to figure out what to do with the block!

Monday, June 29, 2015

CQJP 2015 - Tatting

Each month this year for my CQJP (Crazy Quilt Journal Project) I am learning a new skill, experimenting with or adding to what I have learned.  This month I worked with needle tatting.  I had already learned very basic needle tatting a few years back but had never really done anything with it.  My challenge was therefore to follow patterns and I also worked with ways to add beads to my tatting.  Three YouTube videos were previously added to my blog and you can find those HERE.   I found the videos very helpful and had a lot of fun with this.  I am happy to say I finished before the end of the month.

Following are some close-ups.  Working on a black block was also something I have been wanting to try.  I'm quite pleased with the effect.  It is surprising how much brighter the colors look on black than on softer shades.

The fan was definitely one of the most challenging patterns I followed, lots of tearing out stitches and re-starts.  I had saved the pattern for several years and was happy to finally make it and have a place to use it.  The butterflies are my own pattern and I modified the larger flower pattern.

Since I finished my block early I decided to try a few more patterns and experiments.  Those pieces are shown in the following photos.  I will probably use these in future projects or maybe just sell them in my Etsy shop.  If not any these pieces, I will definitely offer some tatting pieces for sale in my shop as I really enjoyed tatting.

I know there are a lot of excellent tatters and I have learned to appreciate even more the time they put into a piece.  Tatted jewelry is also a popular trend and I hope to find some time to try some of those and to try some tatted ornaments.

Do you do tatting?  What is your favorite thing to tat?  Do you tat with a shuttle or with needle, and if both, which do you prefer?