Sunday, January 28, 2018

A Little Road Trip to Jacksonville and Slow Stitching Sunday

On Friday I accompanied my friend G to Jacksonville so she could take care of business, it's nearly a 3 hour drive and when you aren't familiar with the area it's good to have a second pair of eyes to watch out for the street names, though I don't know how good that was going to be since both of us can't see a street sign without our eyeglasses on, I did use the navigation in my cell phone which talks us through each turn which makes traveling unfamiliar areas fairly easy.

My friend G and I haven't seen each other in a while so you can imagine the chatter that went on between us the entire drive, but we made it to or destination with no trouble pulled into the nearest parking garage and exited. Neither of us thought to note where the parking garage was, and I hadn't checked the phone to see how close we were to the place we were going.  Our destination was roughly 3 blocks from the parking garage and I did note the blue awning our the entrance, so we walked to the courthouse arriving about 30 minutes early and to our surprise you are not allowed to bring cell phones into the courthouse.  Uh Oh!

the courthouse
I decided instead of walking all the way back to the parking garage I'd wait in the lobby but first we both needed to use the restroom, she was able to go in because I had the cell phone, I on the other hand was told I needed to use a facility elsewhere, just when I was turning around another attendant at the security checkpoint said to just give him the phones and I could go though what a nice man.  So my friend headed to where she needed to be and I went back to the lobby both of us not realizing it was still about 20 minutes until her appointed time.  So I strolled the lobby several times back and forth then headed outside to walk around the courtyard several times. Did you ever notice how slow time moves when you are waiting.
The courthouse lobby
Downtown Jacksonville is a lively city with tall old building and people and cars hustling here and there, it immediately takes me back to my childhood growing up in New York, there is nothing like the sites, sounds and smells of a city. I wandered over to where I heard live music on a square across from the courthouse and sat down to listen for a while. My friends appointment time was just coming up so after listening a little longer I headed back to the lobby and 10  minutes later we were on our way back to the parking garage, we missed one of the cross streets but quickly recovered our steps and found the parking garage.

Over lunch we both caught up a bit more and made plans to try to make an effort to get together sooner, it was  well over a year since we were last together we both live in the same city yet never seem to have the same time free, with family obligations and work schedules and other pursuits it can sometimes be impossible to get together.

It's the last Slow Stitching Sunday for January time does fly when you are having fun or so it seems.
I 'll be linking my post at Kathy's Quilts today

I finished the stitching for the little Valentine I made using cotton variegated floss and stitching on 100% cotton fabric.
Yesterday after completing the stitching on the Valentine piece I started stitching on one of my next projects so far I stitched the crudely drawn snowdrop.
I plan to be working on this today, we are due for some heavy thunderstorms and rain today so it's a good say for some hand stitching.

I did some organizing of embroidery floss a few days ago, here are five of my bins these are all DMC floss, I have about 5 or 6 more bins of DMC bins of wrapped floss and several smaller totes  and containers of skeins.
The above photo and below are bins I am currently working from I am known to pull all knew skeins to start a new project I will let you in on a secret I usually only wind my floss after I have used it from the skein,  I don't really like kinks or bends in the floss once it is wound.
DMC floss Skeins 
 I am getting better at using up a floss skein before I pull out a new one for me a hard habit to break.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Greeted by a crow, a new book and a stitched heart.

I woke this morning craving a long leisurely walk and not my fast paced for fitness walk, the warm sunshine was just what I needed today to help me decide to go for the slow paced walk. Does it sound odd for someone to crave a walk? 

I opted to walk in  my favorite park and was greeted by a lovely black crow poking around the dirt I have long believed the crow to symbolize transformation and lately that seems to be at the forefront of my life right now.
The sun was warm but air was cooler than I thought it would be though no breeze blowing so walking without a sweat shirt was fine.  I passed several pregnant women on my stroll sure signs Spring is on the way. There were several moms with little ones playing in the playground area.  I love the sounds of children's voices at play and their laughter while I walk along the path, so full of life and joy.

I notice this large rock at the edge of the basketball court so out of place sitting there just being a rock. I would have liked to carry it along with me but I still had plenty of walking to do and nothing to put it in. My hands would have suffered carrying it and I have enough trouble with my fingers.

Some of the trees are looking very wintry and others are still full and green I think it's one of the things I like about Florida is not all the trees lose their leaves.

I have always loved trees and can spend hours just looking at them, it's a kind of mediation I suppose and often I'm wondering what stories they could tell if only the trees could speak.
I love big old knots and little caves in the trunk I bet you can find a sprite or fairy in there if you look close enough. Oh the things I imagine while I am walking often become ideas for an embroidery or  a quilted wall hanging, or a short story or poem, even a piece of jewelry or pottery. The ideas fill my head till I'm fairly swooning yet more then half lost before I get home.   But that doesn't matter, what does matter is the ideas and inspiration keep coming.

What I'm reading on this wonderful Wednesday:  for the Try Something New Challenge
I'm reading a new to me author, Ellen Stimson, the book is Mud Season and it has me laughing out loud and commiserating with some of the circumstances.  The Herb Quarterly isn't new to me or part of the challenge but I am reading this as well.

In between reading, writing a few letters and walking in the park I'm stitching a cute little Valentine for absolutely no reason except a friend sent me the pattern so I thought I would stitch it up, put it a hoop and send it back to her completed, hopefully in time for Valentine's Day.

I finished the embroidery on the sun piece so now I need a hoop and backing fabric to finish it off  I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.
For both projects I used 100% cotton fabric and variegated embroidery floss, both are made on scrap fabric the Valentine is on muslin and the sun on a heavy cotton.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching and a Little Hoop-La!

Happy Sunday, this morning I woke to a loud rumble and louder clap of thunder or maybe it was the rolling thunder that woke me up, either way I greeted Sunday morning to the sound of rain pattering down and warmer weather.

It's been a week of sorting, purging and finding items in my stash of fabric bins.  Years ago I cut out the pieces for a scrappy log cabin quilt and hand stitched the first block.
I had forgotten all about this project and put it in my scraps bin only to find all the strips stacked and waiting to be stitched all these years later.  So I pulled them out of the bin to decide what to do with them.  I had cut all these pieces using scissors and templates for each strip, my preferred way of making a quilt.
I am a long time hand quilter and by the looks of the first block my stitching has the wonkiness I love in hand piecing.  I suppose after I pieced the block I wasn't thrilled with the overall appearance or I  may have not like the colors I don't recall off hand but somewhere in my quilting journal I would have noted the why I put it aside.  I like to think I just became too busy and forgot it.  I am looking at all those strips and trying to decide whether to finish what I started, remove the outer four strips and focus on the blues or cut up all those strips into 2 inch squares (or make them into 1 inch squares for my postage stamp quilt) and sew together one by one.   I'll give it some thought.  I will be posting today over at Kathy's Quilts for Slow Sunday Stitching

Kathy has a project going on to show a photo of our  favorite hoop, I use all types of hoops and have several of the one's in Kathy's photos including the large floor stand hoop which I use when I'm hand quilting.   My all time favorite hand embroidery hoop is the old metal hoops, this one and several others including an oval one I purchased in 1973.
These are some of my wooden hoops in various sizes  and a purple plastic hoops which I don't care for.
These hoops I was introduced to when I took a hand embroidery class in 2015 they are used most of the time for machine embroidery or at least that is what I was told.  I have a love/hate relationship with these. These hoops do keep the fabric taut but those handles are a nuisance and catch the threads every now and then so I am constantly moving the rings around so I don't catch the threads.
This is a metal hoop a friend sent me last year which is painted and has the cork liner in tact.
I bought this heavy wooden hoop at a thrift store while on vacation last year for 50 cents, I haven't
used it yet but I'm sure it would be good for small hand quilting projects or a large embroidery project. Another favorite is the Q-Snap frame
I love the tautness of the fabric in this frame I usually work larger projects in these, I have them in several sizes if the fabric is thin I add strips of scraps to better hold the fabric in place, or as in the photo I fold over the extra fabric. 
Last but not least the piece currently in my hoop is the little sunshine piece I was working on last week, I plan to be stitching this today

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Showing my Orts for The first TUSAL of 2018

The chill weather continues here in Ocala with tonight's temps expected to drop to 22 degrees, these old bones are feeling the cold this week so the remedy for that is staying inside as much as I can and stitching a little, reading a bit and sipping hot tea.

Tonight is the new moon which brings out the Ort report for the 2018 Totally Useless Stitch Along or TUSAL hosted by It's Daffy Cat's blog if you are curious as to what the TUSAL is all about check out the link here:

Here are my orts so far for January 2018, not as many as I would have liked but enough to see I have been stitching.
Orts and thread catcher
orts jar

I'm getting better at using up most of the thread/floss on my needle, I noticed with my December orts I had quite a few longer pieces of thread most likely from finishing the color and pulling it out of the needle and dropping it in the thread catcher instead of just sticking the needle with thread in the pincushion, live and learn.

I think I mentioned I am taking part is Take a Stitch Tuesday (TAST) this year and I'm also taking part in the Crazy Quilt Journal Project (CQJP) so I thought I might combined both and use the TAST stitching as some of the embellishment on the Crazy Quilt blocks.
buttonhole and running stitch
The first two stitches are the running stitch and the buttonhole stitch, I also have some lazy daisy a french knot and straight stitches in the mix.
Yesterday the 3rd stitch is the fly stitch so I made a bunch of different sizes to fill in the square. I will probably make a few fly stitches leaving a short tail too on another area of the block.
fly stitch
I made a little more progress on my little sunshine piece. I am using Anchor variegated floss throughout.
It's Wednesday so here is what I'm reading another book for the Library Love reading challenge, Shirley Jackson's Let Me Tell You.
Here is the link if you are curious or are looking for a reading challenge for this year.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Slow Stitching bits and Some Sunshine.

Another cold snap made it's way here to north central Florida we were at a balmy 29 degrees at nine o'clock this morning.  Winter in Florida does keep me on my toes and this week has surely pushed my buttons so I'm glad to be starting a brand new week.

On Thursday I had several appointments in the morning,  I was heading out for my appointment on the other side of town and instead of wiping the condensation off my windows with a towel as I normally do I decided to just roll the windows down so I didn't waste time. Well you know Murphy's Law tends to catch us when we least expect it the my passenger side window decided at that moment not to go back up. The rain came in the early afternoon lucky for me I had plastic over the open window and drove it to the repair shop.

It's fair to say my stress levels are up along with my blood pressure, though I did explain to the doctor what my morning was like, so this month I will once again be monitoring my blood pressure as she was quick to point out my last few visit my numbers were elevated. I'm attempting to get in as much stitching as I can, I spent some time yesterday preparing a few pieces of cloth with small random designs to have ready.

I finished the stitching on my mixed media self portrait for the San Francisco School of Needlework & Design Stitch at Home Challenge, along with the hand embroidery I  used crayon tint and beads.
self portrait
I have also been drafting a pattern for the next challenge  here's the link if you are interested:

I began to add some stitches to the January crazy quilt block, pulled a few out and put it aside for a bit.  I feel stuck at this moment and I find myself rethinking the block.
a few stitches in
One of the small random bits I worked on yesterday while the winds blew about the leaves and the temps outside dropped lower and lower.
a bit of sunshine
I will be linking up over at Kathy's Quilts today for Slow Stitching Sunday check out the link to see what other talented bloggers are slow stitching this week.

I am once again taking part in the Facebook Group 1 Year of Stitches here is the group link if it's of interest to you. It's an all hand embroidery group with a new admin with most of the members from 2017 continuing on this year and many new members

There is also a Facebook Group A Year in Stitches which has also continued on for 2018, it's also an all hand embroidery group with many of us continuing on this year.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Such Lovely Words

Your magnificent story

Why would you wish
to change the canvas
of your beautiful face
as you age?
Why would you want
to rid yourself
of the unique terrain
you have so deservedly
come to inhabit,
the visible and faithful
testament that you
have lived?
Why would you
not want people to
recognize the multitude
of seasons that
considered you
a worthy dance partner ..
the droughts and harvests,
the winds and storms
that have shaped
your brow,
supplied you with
an enviable furrow,
that have deepened
and softened the gaze
of your sorrowing
and courageous eyes
with tears that shine
in the dark?
Why would you not
want to be that old
gnarly tree that
children can swing from
as you creak?
Why would you want
to betray your own
magnificent story ..
all the things you’ve done,
all the ways you’ve fallen
and gotten back up,
all the ways you’ve said
yes or no to love ..
why would you want
to let someone cut “you"
away and inject you
with the “not you" and
then pay for it?
Why would you want
to not become fully
yourself and be
recognizable to your
ancestors who walked
before you
when you die?
© Poetess (Rachelle Lamb)
Photo: Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Uncovering: With the Cloak of Many Colors

It's been quite cold here in north central Florida with gray skies and cold winds blowing through, temps fell into the low twenties all week which of course meant it was time to tuck in the plants

We weren't fortunate enough to get any of the snow that fell on Tallahassee or Pensacola but I know when I left the house earlier this week I was hit in the face with sleet or maybe a few flurries. I feel a little disappointed each time the temps drop so cold, the skies break gray  and in your heart you just know it is snowing north of where you stand and I long to walk in the beauty where everything covered in white snow surrounded by the silence that usually follows.

I know I could drive north to enjoy the snow, I also know my old bones feel the cold now more than a year ago and those old bones ache deep inside, the arthritis and old bone breaks let me know I'm not missing as much as I think, so perhaps just longing for the snow and reading about it on friends and family blogs is enough for me this year.

A few days ago I was browsing the internet as I do from time to time, reading blogs, looking at posts on Pinterest, reserving a few books for the library reading challenge when somewhere along my web travels I came across this colorful Ruana:
Echo Ruana from Paradox Moon
Oh the riot of color, I was enchanted from the moment my eyes fell on the photo, yes that photo above, from Paradox Moon. I saved the photo and posted it on my Facebook along with this one also from Paradox Moon and asked for opinions.
Helena Ruana from Paradox Moon

I think I knew I was going to buy it the moment I saw it but I waited a few days I don't like to make impulse buys.  For days I couldn't get it out of my mind, I just loved the colors, the embroidery the way it made me feel when I thought about it, something was happening to me I couldn't explain it but I felt that feeling before a long, long time ago.  Four days after I first laid eyes on it I bought it.  I purchased it on the evening of the first full moon of the year perhaps shedding my old ways to lay a path to start a whole new cycle.
the back Echo Ruana
It arrived Thursday afternoon when I wrapped the ruana around me I unwrapped a part of myself  I felt more alive, free and easy. This baffled me to no end could a mere garment cause such a feeling of transformation? I felt awake for the first time in a very long time, not the awake you feel after a long night of sound sleep, but awake to my life the part I seem to have tucked away a while back and somehow I forgot all about.

My friend K left this comment on my FB page It's gorgeous. You are going to feel so wonderful walking around in it.  She was right, though I felt so much more, I could feel layers of dust fall from me the old stirrings of creativity rumbling from deep down inside me, the potter, the painter, the writer, all long tucked away deep within like my garden plants waiting to be uncovered to the sunlight once again.  I need to hold on and embrace this rediscovered me, it looks like 2018 is going to be an interesting year.

On another note I haven't done much stitching this week my hands and fingers are sore and holding the needle can be quite painful, the tingling can really be maddening, and the arthritis with the cold doesn't help so I have spent a few days reading.  Yesterday while out running a few errands I stopped by the library to pick up a few books I reserved.
I had joined a few reading challenges for 2018 and these will fit in nicely for the 2018 Library Love Challenge. Here is the link if you are interested. 
I am an avid reader and patron of the local library, every book checked out helps get those library funds.  I didn't read as many books last year I was so engrossed in hand embroidery I sort of just let it slide I plan to remedy that this year. 
On the stitching front I made a little more progress on the greenman piece, my fingers were too achy to get much done but every stitch counts.
It's beginning to warm up a little and by mid week daytime temps should be in the 60's which should help my hands start feeling nimble again today I need to start the embroidery work on my crazy quilt block for January. This is the block:
 I have pulled out some beads from that big stash I found at a local thrift shop back in early December for $5.00, I do love a good find.
I wondered after I brought them home would I be able to use them all? Maybe not I plan to use some  on each crazy quilt block.  I am linking today at Kathy's Quilts here is the link
go on over to see what other talented bloggers are hand stitching today.

I have the answer to my question as to whether the Frixion pen lines would disappear after being ironed, yesterday I was pressing the crayon tint on a project before I began stitching and YES those lines do disappear when ironed, lucky for me it was my own pattern so I can retrace the stitching lines.
Silly me had forgotten all about the pens lines I just wanted to get the crayon tinting set so I could start stitching.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Another Stitch at Home Challenge from San Francisco School of Needlework & Design

The San Francisco School of Needlework & Design is having another Stitch at Home challenge, I just signed up, I am nearly done with my Mixed Media Self Portrait challenge piece, the deadline for that is January 17th.  Here is a link for the newest challenge:

I finished another hand embroidered piece last night, I have a few more hand pieces I want to get done over the next few weeks for a project I have brewing in my head.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year

Once again we are at the start of a brand new year, I like to see it as a clean slate or a fresh page of paper poised and ready for my pen to start writing what I would like to do during 2018. I have put my new calendar on the wall all those little squares of endless possibility just waiting to be filled.
So let me start off with a few of my goals, plans and ideas for 2018. I was going to take part in the First Day Hikes presented by the Florida State Parks unfortunately the day broke with heavy rain which lasted through most of the day. It was like mother nature washes away the last remnants of 2017.  I will be doing a hike at the Silver Springs State Park, tomorrow this will kick off two of my goals for 2018, the 1st is to work toward a healthier me and the 2nd is to hike a trail at least once a month.

I may have mentioned I joined the Crazy Quilt Journal Project 2018. I thought this would be a great project to gain more confidence in using more embroidery stitches and improving my skills. So often I have done projects that required only a few stitches and several where I just used the back stitch to outline the pattern and while those look great a few years ago I was working many new stitches each week then some where along the way I stopped.

I mentioned in my post yesterday I joined a few reading challenges for this year, something I neglected to do last year and maybe that's why I didn't read as much as I usually do. To get things off to a good start I reserved a few books from the local library: 

Let Me Tell You: new stories, essays and other writings by Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson: A Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin
The Man Who Made Things Out of Trees by Rob Penn

I recently ordered two books from Amazon both by Ellen Stimson which should be here by the end of the week they are:
Good Grief
Mud Season

The new 1 Year of Stitches project started for 2018, this is a group on Facebook for hand embroidery, here is the link if it may be something you are interested in joining.

I plan to fill the new calendar with all kinds of projects from quilting and crochet, knitting and embroidery, some beading and reading a few classes too. Toss in some healthy activities and an exercise class or two and I should be able to meet my goals for 2018.