Thursday, December 8, 2016

New Santa and Clumsy Accident

Every year I try to find a Santa ornament for my family room tree, which is decorated only with Santas and red glass balls. If you've followed my blog at all you know that I'm big on Christmas decorating. This tree (one of two) is 7 1/2 feet tall so there's always room for one more. I was disappointed that none of my usual haunts had a Santa to tempt me, so I was thrilled to find this one yesterday in TJ Maxx. It is handblown in Poland,where they make some of the best glass ornaments and are usually quite pricey. This one was at TJ prices, so I was extra pleased.

This is an Italian Santa. Behind him is the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a little hard to see in this picture, and the Italian flag. He carries a basket of fruit and has a jaunty Italian cap on his head. I have been to Italy and the Leaning Tower, so it has some meaning to me. He is getting along very nicely with the other Santas, some of them from other countries, too.

And now for my clumsy accident. Some of you may be lucky enough to live in a state where you can't pump your own gas, like New Jersey, but here in Connecticut we have to pump our own. It is very hard to find a full service station and if you do you pay a premium price. I get my gas at Costco, the best price around. Yesterday while putting the nozzle back in its cradle I somehow dropped it and it fell right on my toes. Yes, that big heavy metal thing! I saw stars! The roaming attendant came over, picked up the nozzle and asked if I was alright. I really didn't know, but I told home it really hurt, which it did! I then proceeded to a scheduled luncheon and a few errands . By the time I got home several hours later and was able to remove my shoe and sock, this was the pretty sight.

I had this fat little purple sausage for a toe and purple bruising on the top my foot and on the bottom of the toe (it's actually much more purple there). I immediately put on some Arnica gel, which is great for reducing bruising and iced it as much as I could. I was sure it was broken, since I couldn't move it very much at all. Today I did go to the gym with my trainer and we only did upper body and ab exercises. I think that the big heavy sneakers that I wear to the gym were good for it. I think it kept it stable and now I'm not sure if it is broken. Not too much you can do if it is, other than taping it to the next toe, which I will do tonight. Glad I got my pedicure the other day. I don't think I'd want anyone touching that toe for awhile. Oh, yes, that toe is a hammer toe. I was hoping that the nozzle would have flattened it out, but it didn't. It's as hammer as it ever was.

Now back to writing out my Christmas cards.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Grab Bag Treasure

Today we had our regional Surface Design Association holiday meeting. We had a grab bag where participants were encouraged to contribute something hand made. I was so delighted with what I received. It is a gorgeous handmade journal by Charlotte Hedlund. You can see more of her beautiful work on her website.

Being a big blue and white person, the colors could not have been more perfect. I know nothing about making books, but I could see the work that went into it.
It is perfectly square, but my photography makes it look skewed. It isn't. She included a little note inside telling what everything was made of.

The cover, made of indigo cave paper. Remember it really is square, about 6 inches.

The book opened out flat, face down so that you can see the whole design.

Endpapers are ecoprints on cotton rag.

Even the spine is a work of art.

What did I contribute to the grab bag? A set of my shibori napkins in blue and white.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Silk Scarves

I had enough left over from each fabric after I cut out my silk wraps, shown here, to make one scarf. I backed each one in a coordinating fleece. As I like to say, elegant on one side, warm and cozy on the other. I will be taking these to the Brookfield Craft Center, too.

The Craft Center is a great place to do some holiday shopping. I always pick up a few gifts while I'm there. Everything is handmade in the USA and many are from local or nearby artists. I also have some of my Garden Studies there. Stop by if you are in the area.

I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Monday, November 28, 2016


I know that some of you look forward to seeing what my niece, Lauren, does for her holiday table, always something different, so here is this year's.

She always has fresh flowers that she arranges herself and always a beautiful tablecloth and napkins.
The food was equally delicious, as were her Pumpkin Martinis (sinful, but oh, so good!).

Here is her SO's bulldog, Tank, dressed for the occasion. I must confess that I bought it for him and he kept it on all day. It didn't seem to bother him at all, but he is used to wearing a collar and an occasional scarf. He is a very mellow dog, as are most of that breed.

I have many things for which to be grateful, but especially that this year my sister has moved into a house two doors down from me. We are the best of friends and this is so much better than her being on Long Island, over a two hour drive away, depending on weather and traffic. She moved in about a month ago and is settling in very nicely. She is already friends with most of my friends, since we travel together, and we are having a grand old time.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Garment Sewing

I recently got a fantastic deal on some beautiful silk reversible decorator fabric. I immediate thought of using it for garments, but wasn't sure what. When I got home I remembered a fleece wrap that I had bought a couple of years ago and always loved to wear.

If you are a garment sewer, you might be able to tell that this is made from one big circle with two armholes. It has to be made from a fabric that looks good on both sides, as this fleece does, or my magnificent new silk. I cut one out and when I realized it would work, I went back to the sale the next day and bought more fabric. I wore my first one to a big holiday luncheon to rave reviews. So many people, including strangers, came up and told me how much they liked it. With that confidence under my belt, I made a few more and they will be for sale at the Brookfield Craft Center Holiday sale.

Since the fabric is reversible, it looks good on both sides and is slightly different on each. You need a pin, sparkly or not, to hold it in place.

On this one I folded the edges of the top under to give it more of a collar affect. Wouldn't this be pretty for a holiday party?

I originally thought that I could just use a satin stitch on the edges, but that did not work at all, due to the fact that the silk wants to ravel. So I made French binding and used that on all the edges. I got pretty good at it as I went along. I cut my bias strips 2 inches wide and folded it in half. I sewed it on with a quarter inch seam, then turned it over, using lots of steam and covered the stitching on the other side. Then I stitched in the ditch on the front, catching the edge on the other side.



I wish I had taken a picture of the other one at the shop, but I didn't. It is the same fabric in shades of dark brown and tan, very elegant. (PS when I went to deliver these two garments I found out that the dark brown and tan one had sold.)

I'm wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving. I will be going to my niece's as usual and will share pictures of her gourmet feast and decor later this week. 

I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Shibori Napkins

This summer I went to a Surface Design Association meeting at Anita Balkun's home.  On the refreshment table she had a large sampling of the scrumptious ice dyed napkins that she had made for her son's wedding, 145, I think. They were not ironed and so had this lovely soft hand to them. She had done them in many shades of dye and each one was different than the rest.   

I was so enamored of them and inspired that I decided to make some myself, but I wanted to make them all shibori in the traditional dark blue and white. I went online and ordered several sets of vintage linen napkins on eBay. No two sets were the same size; some were luncheon size and some a generous dinner size. Most sets did not have an even number, they were 5 or 7 or 9 to a set. I also had five large damask napkins from a table cloth I had years ago. It was a large cloth, 120 inches, and I know there were twelve napkins, but I only could find five. Heaven only knows what happened to the rest.

So here is what I did:
This first set was done in the fold and clamp method, using wooden shapes that I had on hand. This was a smaller luncheon size. I steam ironed all the napkins and while they are not stiff as they would be if I had ironed them damp, they had a wonderful soft feel to them, as all of the other napkins do, too. These are all folded.

This is just one of this set opened, so you can see the repeat.

For this next set, I accordion pleated them, using an iron and then held the pleats in place with clothespins. As I was running low on clothes pins, I used fewer on each one and when I ran out of clothespins for the last two I used rubber bands.

One of this set opened up to show the repeat pattern. Even though these took a sharp crease,  they are still very soft to the touch.

The next two sets are larger napkins and I was able to sew each one into a tube to fit onto a PVC pipe. Then they were scrunched down as tightly as I could. Because the fabric was heavier than the usual sewing cotton that I would use in my fiber art, the stripes were much farther apart, but I still like them. There are 8 to this set, the only even set I had. Again, these are folded.

This set is from the heavy damask dinner size napkins that I only had 5 of. These stripes were even wider and some came out much darker than the others. Who knows why......part of the fun of dyeing.

This last set was of very large dinner napkins in a soft damask in an allover pattern, which is hard to see. This set was ice-dyed. I was just about out of the Navy dye that that I had used for all the others and I had to add Midnight Blue, which is a blue with a slight periwinkle hue, thus the lavender and reddish tones coming through. Of course as with all ice-dying , each napkin is unique.

I must say that this was a lot of fun and I would like to do some more, but perhaps in assorted colors. I use cloth napkins every day, but it's just me living here and how many napkins can one person use? My home is predominately blue and white, so any of these would be perfect here but I am thinking that they would also make great gifts.

A little late, I know, but I am linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Saturday, October 29, 2016

End of Summer On My Windowsill

Today I had the onerous task of putting the garden to bed and bringing in the deck furniture. Although we haven't had a killing freeze yet, we have come close and it will come soon. I decided to take advantage of this relatively mild day in the 50's to complete the chore. The annuals on my front porch still looked pretty and it killed me to take them away. I tried to compensate with some pumpkins and mums to keep things looking spiffy.

These geranium still looked so pretty that I put them on the windowsill in the kitchen. They don't really "go with" the rest of my autumn decor in golds and bronze and yellow, but what the heck, all colors go together in nature.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2016

All tied up

Last week Cathy Perlmutter, who writes a very clever and witty blog, posted about a quilt she had made with many recycled neckties. I thoroughly enjoyed looking at it and hearing about how she had acquired so many unusual ties. I left a comment telling her how much I liked it and telling about the things that I had made with them. She prompted me to do a blog post about my works.

None of these are new works, but since I haven't made anything new in a while, I thought I would share these with you. Mine are not whimsical as hers are, but I did have fun making them. My husband was alive at the time and he let me dig into his considerable stash ( I have mentioned before that he was a clothes horse) and I also purchased some at thrift shops since I was looking for particular colors.

This first one, Tailspin, Tie Spin, uses only red and black ties. I bordered it with red silk dressmaker's fabric and I love the intensity of the colors. I used a pattern that used just one template. The tie silk was backed with a lightweight cotton iron-on interfacing, which made it much easier to handle.  This quilt was featured in Janet Elwin's book, Ties, Ties, Ties. It measures 32 inches square.

I hand-quilted it with black quilting thread an inch from each seam, as we did back in the day. I really love this quilt and always thought it would look great in a man's office.

This one uses the same one template, but in reverse, which makes a star. My son and I used to enjoy watching Wheel of Fortune and one of their categories is Before and After, so this one is called
Star Power Ties. ( Get it? Star Power, Power Ties). It measures 36 inches square and uses only tie material, including the binding. It was featured in Quilter's Newsletter Magazine, along with patterns and instructions.

I  hand-quilted this one in concentric circles using navy quilting thread.

Remember back when we were all wearing vests? I made sooooo many of them. Sadly they are out of style, but I can't bear to part with them since they were so much work. This one has a fan pattern made out of ties and the rest is Dupioni silk. 

I machine-quilted this in bronze metallic thread.

On the back I quilted the fan pattern. I don't know what happened to the other tie vests I made. I know I made at least one crazy-quilt style using the tie fabric and fancy stitches on my machine. I also made a couple where I used narrow bias strips cut from ties and appliqu├ęd onto men's wear suiting material along with tie labels. I know I sold at at least one and gave one to my sister. I think mine got moth holes in the wool suiting.

This is a scarf which I made just last year. I may have shown it before. It uses strips of tie fabric, using the sew and flip method on a thin cotton base and then backed with red fleece.

Silky and pretty on one side and warm and cozy on the other.

Have you made anything with ties?  Let me know and put it up on your blog, if you have one.

I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016