Thursday, September 3, 2015

Watercolor Painting and Macrame - check!

Stepped away from crazy quilt blocks this past week to fill a couple orders.

The first is a watercolor painting that was commissioned.  I had never personally seen the home until I delivered the painting and really worried I had missed some detail in the photo that was provided.  The client seemed very pleased.  I love painting!  

I do tend to worry and fret when I am working on a painting for a client.  One false move or spill can ruin the painting and make it necessary to redo it all.  There are some tricks to fix minor problems that I've discovered.  I have essential tremors (shaky hands) and have to be especially careful with details such as the scrolls in this painting.  It is always a relief when I finish.  I hadn't painted for quite awhile so now I have the urge to do more and I'm already mulling over ideas for my next painting.

The following little guy is from my last post.  There was a request for one from a friend.  Done and on its way to Canada!  

Now to figure out my next block for CQJP 2015.  I will be falling behind the next couple of months as I have a week I will be spending with my granddaughters while their mother takes a class out of town and then spending two weeks in Italy.  So excited about the upcoming trip!  If any of you have advice, please share as I have never been there before.  Anxious and excited at the same time!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

August CQJP - Macrame

This month I returned to the 1970s and 1980s for my focus on a craft I dabbled in at that time - namely macrame.  It was quite the trend and almost everyone was using it to decorate their home.  There were wall hangings, flower pot holders, towel holders, wine bottle hangers and the list goes on.  As far as icons, the first one I think of is the owl.  I do recall lots of wooden beads, ceramic fish, mushrooms, owls, chickens/roosters etc. into whatever design I did.

August CQJP 2015 - Macrame 

The big challenge was recreating some of these things in a size appropriate for my crazy quilt block.  I went ahead and embroidered the seams of my block in coordinating floss so they wouldn't overpower any macrame pieces I would later add.  Following directions for a sampler in one of my stitchery books, I used a #10 cotton thread in a natural color.   I followed the directions for a full-size design and as a result wasn't sure what dimension my designs using a much smaller fiber would be when completed.  Below is the first sampler I created.  Please don't be too critical since it had been over 40 years since I had done any macrame.  Although it only ended up about four inches wide and five inches long without the fringe, this took hours!  In my opinion it took up too much space on the block also but was a great practice piece.

I ended up creating my own version of a sampler as shown to the left on my finished block.

I attached the threads with the Larks Head Knots.  The next row is the Horizontal Clove, a/k/a Double Half Hitch.  Below that are four columns called Sinnets.  The outer ones are Square Knot Sinnets and the two center twisted ones are Half Knot Sinnets.  The Half Knots create a natural twist.  The two Half Knot Sinnets are joined at the base with two square knots, then all are used to create the Alternating Square Knots.

Next, the middle section of the sampler is topped with another Horizontal Clove, followed by Diagonal Cloves with an added bird bead.  Below the bird is another bead, a Square Knot Picot and some more Square Knots spaced further apart.  A row of beads were then secured in place with Square Knots and another Horizontal Clove.

The bottom third following the last Diagonal Clove is Interwoven Square Knots, beads, and Alternating Square Knots.  Finally Overhand Knots were tied to secure threads, leaving some length of threads loose to form the fringe.

I tied two Josephine Knots to the securing thread at the top to finish it off.

Of course I had to have an owl somewhere!  Using the full size pattern which used Lark's Head Knots to attach fibers to a ring, the remainder was created with Square Knots and Diagonal Cloves.  A small twig was attached at the base, threads wrapped together at the base and cut to form fringe.

I had been wishing I would have kept my old macrame instruction booklets and wondered if it would even be possible to find the older ones anywhere.  God works in mysterious ways!  I went to our church's garage sale and there was a large cooler full of macrame supplies...and several booklets for $5!  Of course it would have been crazy not to snatch up those items.  In one of the books was this giant spider tutorial.  As most of you know spider webs and spiders on CQ blocks are good luck so of course I needed to make this in a small size.  Gulp.  

The spider was made using two Berry Knots.  I had never heard of Berry Knots that I recall let alone made anything with one, but decided 'nothing ventured, nothing gained'.  It wasn't that bad really (I can say that now that it's done).  To give due credit, the spider was in a booklet called "How to Make Plant Hangers" by author/designer Lynn Paulin.  The copyright date is 1974 and there are a couple of numbers including HP-420 and 13-99088 which may possibly help identify the booklet.  I actually Googled her and an Amazon site came up with this booklet listed.  You can find it HERE.  Also some on Etsy, HERE.  You have to love Google.  I didn't create my spider in exactly the same was as Lynn Paulin, but she deserves the credit for the idea.  Unfortunately I couldn't find a way to contact her.

The legs in the tutorial were made by wrapping cords over wire I believe.  Since mine would be stitched in place I didn't feel they needed the wire support which I envisioned as being very frustrating in this small size, so I simply braided three threads together for each set of legs, knotting the ends and joints.  I was going to do the macrame web also but opted to just stitch one onto the block with embroidery floss a shade darker than the spider.

 I'm hooked!  The box included all these wonderful booklets (not sure why this loaded sideways?)...

All these beads for macrame....

And a lot of fibers for full sized projects.

I can see where the knots used in macrame can be used to embellish crazy quilt blocks and I'm hoping to make more of the spiders eventually adding them to my (neglected) Etsy shop.  What a fun trip into the past!

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.