Friday, July 13, 2018

This Rose is My Rose

This rose bush in my front yard puts out only a few blooms every year. It has a most glorious aroma! 

The brilliant color slays me.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Throwback Thursday - 2000 (Part 4 of 4)

My year of small projects finished up with several more ornaments and one Thanksgiving stitchery.

Little Snowfriend

This cute little guy came as a free chart in a mailing for an offer for a cross-stitch magazine. He stitched up very quickly in just two days. I decided to stitch him on 14ct perforated plastic. It was a very fun project. (Some are quite fun, others are a test of patience). This Snowfriend has just enough shading to make him interesting, but only uses twelve colors of floss.

When the stitching was done, I trimmed it close to the stitching and backed him with craft felt. I kept this ornament for myself and hang it on the tree each year.

Tall Turkey

I stitched this goofy turkey for myself. I was born on Thanksgiving Day, so turkeys have always held a special place in my heart.

This chart calls for Gentle Art Sampler Threads, but is also charted for Anchor and DMC stranded floss. I chose to use the DMC floss for my bird. He's such a cutie! The button and fabric came with the chart.

I completed it as a quilted banner and hang him in our front hallway each Fall.

Elves and Spiders

These charming Christmas critters aren't cross-stitch, but did involve some sewing and beading. I found the elf pattern in one of the many Christmas craft books that I inherited from my mom. I made about a dozen of them in red, green and white. They have pipe cleaners for bodies, so they can bend and pose! Their heads are made from wooden balls, and their hands and feet are beads.

The spiders were made from bead kits. They are formed from beads and wire with various jewelry findings. The kit instructions were very clear, making the spiders fun to put together. Here's a close up of a similar spider that I made this year.

Over the years these elves and spiders have given my daughters quite a bit of fun. The elves have been known to ride on the backs of the spiders, use the spider's heads like soccer balls, and play follow the leader. I kept all the spiders, but gave many of the elves away to the UPS gal, the mail delivery gal, and my favorite waitresses. It's a joy to give a gift to someone who works hard, and isn't expecting something handmade.

Folk Art Snowmen Ornaments

This is the series of ornaments I stitched for my own family in 2000. These snowfolks caught my eye because they are just slightly tattered and torn, and have a real homey feel. They are stitched on Fiddler's Light ground cloth, a fabric with nubby brown fibers that help with the country/rustic flavor of the designs. The ornaments were finished as little banners with fringe on the bottom. The hanging "pole" is made from twisted paper ribbon. Clever!

There were eight ornaments in the kit, so I stitched the other three for my oldest sister - and got them to her on time!

In 2001 I was ready to work on some larger projects, beginning with a latch-hook rug. I look forward to sharing that and more next week.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Welcome Blanket

A story in two parts

Part One

When I was six years old, I had my very first birthday party where I was allowed to invite school friends. I invited friends from my new first grade class along with my best friend from kindergarten. It was one of the best days of my life. I felt indescribably special. Among other gifts, I received a Midge doll, Barbie's best friend.

But my very favorite gift was a big box with lots of tiny bottles filled with fragrances and a bunch of teeny tiny labels. It was a perfume lab ... sort of like a chemistry set for girls. The idea was to use the eyedropper to mix three drops from one bottle, six from another, two from a third and develop your very own personal scents. Then you could name your concoctions and add a label with the name of your new blended fragrance.

I so loved that gift! My family wasn't quite as thrilled because the new fragrances didn't necessarily smell good. But I loved it. Long after all the little bottles were used up, I carried the remaining mini labels around with me ... even to college.

One of the things I loved most about the experience of that gift was having that box full of possibilities. Ever since then, I've looked longingly at similar boxes of "learn to do this" crafts in stores. Learn to draw. Learn to make beaded bracelets. Learn to do macrame. Learn to fold origami. Wooden boxes full of pastels and watercolors and markers and colored pencils. But I didn't have the money for them as a kid, or even in high school. Then I outgrew them. My age grew beyond the age on the box: "For Children 6 to 12 Years Old."

Well, a couple months ago, I found myself in the aisle of Walmart where these enticing boxes are all lined up. I ran my hand along the shelf, that wistful little Mimi inside me yearning to explore all of them. I found one craft I've been meaning to learn: making a fleece blanket. I picked up the box. Sighed. Put it back on the shelf, knowing that it won't be so very long when I can buy a craft box for my granddaughter.

I moved on to the next aisle. Then walked back. I picked up the box again. Then put it on the shelf again. Then I looked at the price and realized I can afford this now! I didn't need it. There are all kinds of free ways to learn the technique. I had no use for such a blanket. But it was pretty and colorful and not very expensive. So I bought it, brought it home, and added it to the shelf of "someday" projects in my Studio.

Part Two

Those kids. Those parents. Torn apart at the border. Taken from each other for weeks and months. Me, feeling revulsion and impotent. It's a daily horror. Some of those little girls are even younger than my granddaughter. Their caregivers were not allowed to hold them and comfort them. Cruel. Unnecessary. I'm horrified that our government would treat people like this. Angry that we are told the United States no longer wants to help those seeking asylum.

No. Just no!


Yet what is my part? Financial donation? Carry a picket sign? Call my congressmen? What can I do that fits with my gifts and talents?

Then this opportunity was presented to me. Welcome Blankets. Here's what it's about in a nutshell:
The proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico is almost 2000 miles long. Imagine if the massive distance of this wall was re-conceptualized and re-contextualized not to divide, but to include. Instead of wall, a concrete line, to keep people out, what if lines of yarn became 3,500,640 yards of blankets to welcome people in?
A welcome blanket is traditionally created to lovingly mark the arrival of a new person into the world. In the Welcome Blanket project, each handmade blanket is a physical manifestation of this celebration of new refugees and other immigrants: “Welcome to the United States and your new life here! We are so glad you have arrived.”
So here I have a chance to do something tangible. Here I have a chance to use the blanket kit I'd bought. Here I have a chance to use my gifts and talents to maybe share some love through giving a gift of a fuzzy blanket to a child who could use some comfort.

When my two baby daughters and I left the women's shelter 30 years ago, we were given a blanket with a Snoopy print on it. We used it for decades - until it was shredded. I know what it's like to be homeless, and to be given the gift of love from someone who cares, someone who didn't even know me or my daughters. I'll never forget that gift.

So here's my chance.

On the 4th of July, I spent the entire day making a Welcome Blanket for a new American.
When cruelty, racism, and bigotry are eating away at our society, Welcome Blanket harnesses our creativity and community to stand up for those who are marginalized, those who are hurt, those who are often unseen. Together, we say: we are so glad you are here.
A full circle moment.

Cuddle Pile!

A little about my blanket:

The kit came with all the colorful squares. The slits were already cut to create tabs on all four sides of each square. It's as simple as lining the squares up and tying the tabs together with a square knot.  I thought the finished blanket was a little too wimpy and could use a back. So I looked through my stash and found a nice piece of black polar fleece.

I cut the black fleece to size, cut slits in the edge, then tied the colorful tabs on the quilt top to the black tabs on the quilt back. I reinforced each corner where the colored squares meet by tying black yarn through both top and bottom layers of the quilt. The finished quilt is approximately 36" x 56".

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Monday, July 9, 2018

Yep. It's Here

It's been rather mild in the Pacific Northwest lately. But today ... yes today the temperatures rose. It feels like ...

I made this about 10 years ago. I display it on my mantle each summer.