MAGPIE'S MUMBLINGS

A blog about my interests, which include crazy quilting and various and assorted other artsy pursuits and sometimes known to contain mumblings of a random nature.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Random-ness (maybe even some mumbling)

Sorry folks, no picture today. However you might be interested to know that I've started on the last handmade Christmas present today. Pictures will follow.

SharonB has announced the challenge for 2008 and the information can be found here: http://sharonb.wordpress.com/take-it-further-challenge/ I won't go into detail here, but if you're interested check out the link and you can read more. I think my personal challenge will be to create a crazy-quilted block of the month and use the wonderful cigarette silks my friend Jan gave me. Maybe 8" squares so they might be do-able in a month. I'll have to give this some more thought before I fully decide.

Lisa Vollrath is doing her Christmas countdown of images on her site at http://countdown.tentwostudios.com starting December 1st and running for the entire month. She is very generous and I think you can count on some pretty cool freebies from her.

Have you ever wondered if you are right or left brained? Can't say as I've stayed up nights thinking about it or anything, but here's a little test you can do... http://tinyurl.com/2zp5rk

Listened to a pod-cast interview of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (the Yarn Harlot) today and it seems she will have a new book out in the spring, with another to follow in the fall. There's also talk of a page-a-day calendar in the works. Her blog is at www.yarnharlot.ca

And a reminder that http://sewmamasew.com/blog has some interesting links to quickie gift ideas which has been going on all of November.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

All about "I"

Today, because I haven't been home long enough to actually accomplish anything, will be about "I" - and before you think my grammer ain't no good, I'm talking about the letter I.

I will tell you all about the things I like (some of which you might know, some of which you might not).

-Chocolate. Dark, decadent, succulent, top of the food groups, chocolate.
-Books. Craft books, novels, how to's, organizational books, self help books, biographies, even the back of cereal boxes.
- Satsuma bubble bath from The Body Shoppe. Oh to just inhale the scent direct from the bottle. Totally sublime.
- Scalloped potatoes. Actually pretty much any kind of potato is good but I particularly love scalloped. One of the ten best comfort foods (almost as good as chocolate).
- Purple, and blue, and burgundy. Red too. I'm a 'winter' so that probably explains why I really like those colours.
- Dogs and cats, as long as they're kept under control and not running loose
- carnations and orchids. Single old-fashioned roses too.
- The library, because it has such a wonderful selection of books (see above)
- People, because they are so diverse and many of them are so very interesting
- my town and my country. I would not want to live anywhere else in the world.

I'm sure there is a lot more, but that's all I can come up with for now.

On another note, thanks Arlee for the suggestion in the comments yesterday that I consider making bags for the homeless shelter in order to use up my denim. Great idea!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Latest bag

Here's another Christmas present I just finished up. I've been trying very hard to use up my stash of recycled denim and, even after making about fourteen of these bags, I can't see that I've even made so much as a dent in it. These are really easy to make, which is what I look for at this time of year. The originial pattern came from the book 'Jazzy Jeans' by Mickey Baskett, but you could use any tote bag pattern. The 'bits' of denim are sewn on in the sew-n-flip method you use for crazy quilting. I top-stitch using a yellow denim thread and add recycled pockets. This one has buttons from my collections added for some bling. A cheap, and cheerful, bag which can serve many uses.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A washcloth....

Another Christmas present is done! This is a crocheted washcloth of my own design and will be paired with a bar of nice soap and included in a Christmas stocking for my future d-i-l's Mom, who (along with her Dad) will be here from France this year. It's going to be fun because they don't speak English and we don't speak French! I'm looking forward to meeting them and I know everything will work out just fine, despite the language barrier.
The washcloth is made from Bernat Handicrafter Cotton yarn in an oatmeal colour. I'm hoping to find some oatmeal soap. Tied up with a pretty ribbon, it will make a nice gift.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Ornaments!

Today we did the Christmas decorating/sorting. The back of the car is full of several boxes of decorations that are heading for the thrift store tomorrow. We have altogether too much 'stuff' so downsizing is a good thing!

I promised a picture of some of the ornaments I've given over the years. Here are some of them (there's more, but I didn't want to totally bore you!). One of them is from my 'ceramics' phase (the santa at the bottom of the picture). The round ball and the pine cone were another phase I went through (thankfully I got over that one). The three little wooden snowmen were mini-swags I made one year. The santa to the right of the swag is made from paper using an image from Dover Publications. If I remember rightly I printed him off on the computer, antiqued him, stuffed him lightly and stitched around the outside.

The final picture shows three cross-stitched santas (which I think was originally a kit, but can't remember for sure). The santa with the rabbit in the basket was one of the hand painted on wood ones which were just too time-consuming for words. Finally the felt snowman, which is pretty self-explanatory from the picture.





Wednesday, November 21, 2007

In which Magpie shall mumble...again

Sorry folks, I spent the day installing peel & stick liners in my s-i-l's cupboard at her newly-acquired house and so nothing creative got done (other than the ruination of my already sore knees, but we won't go there).

So....guess what? I shall mumble!

I just finished catching up on SharonB's site (http://sharonb.wordpress.com) and have discovered a few interesting topics, which I will pass along. Firstly, she has pointed us to a rather fun blog about to-do lists (we all have them, right?). Anyway, check out http://www.todolistblog.com for some fun reading.


Sharon has had some very interesting discussion about blogs themselves lately and her most recent post concerns comments and why people do/don't use them. I found her unofficial survey results to be very interesting and think you might too. Check out her site (listed above) and scroll down for the Nov. 21 entry titled "Response to Comments".


She has also been discussing what sort of challenge will replace our Take A Stitch Tuesdays we've been doing all year. If you're interested in voting on what we might be doing, scroll down further on her site to the post titled 'Take A Stitch Tuesday - Week 47".


Another site I've stumbled on is at http://sewmamasew.com/blog where you can find all sorts of patterns for all sorts of areas of crafting...a different 'topic' each day this month.


I guess winter must be here because when we came home late this afternoon it was attempting to sleet. Yuck, yuck, and yuck. The weather report is calling for some heavy snow tonight so I would just like to curl up with a good book and stay in. However, that's not to be because we are headed out again tonight. Sigh. I wish I was a bear and could just hibernate and sleep through the entire thing. Zzzzzzz.....

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Birds of a feather!

In this case, they are flocking together. To answer Arlee's question in the comments - they will all be pretty much the same because they are going to different people. Every year I do a limited edition of ornaments (pity the poor people who have known me for lots of years...I have a personal connection with their trees!). Once we get our tree out for this year, I'll try to remember to take a picture so you can see some of the ones I've made over the years. I'd hate to hazard a guess as to how many years I've been doing them.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The birds!!




Yep, I have a whole flock of birds in my workroom, soon to be turned into Christmas ornaments. This year I'm doing something pretty simple and will show the idea I've come up with in a day or so.
The other picture is of a journal book I covered with some very rich looking velvet which I will be giving as a gratitude journal to a friend who needs it. The picture isn't very clear so you can't really see the pretty pattern in the velvet. Hopefully she will like it!

Friday, November 16, 2007

And another one bites the dust!


Another Christmas present, that is. I really don't know how one takes a decent picture of an apron without having someone to model it. Jack would be very unwilling (at least when it's this lacy!). The material is a slightly off-white eyelet edged with some lace I had in my stash. Pattern is McCall's M5551. It's for someone who appreciates girly things and I know she will like this.
I even (wonder of wonders) managed to figure out how to make a buttonhole with my Janome! That's a first and I've only had the machine for at least four years. I'm quite impressed with myself that I actually did it. Only goes to prove that I don't sew anything with buttonholes -ever!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

And the stockings were hung....


...by the chimney with care. Today I've made a couple of Christmas stockings. It's a horrible dark picture (but couldn't get it any better). You'll have to imagine the main part of the stocking is green velvet with Christmas-y poinsetta fabric at the top, trimmed with gold ribbon. B.aaa.d picture, but you can get the idea! #2 son's fiance will be bringing her parents here for Christmas this year so I needed to whip up a couple of stockings real quick. They are from France and they don't speak English, nor do we speak French!! Should make it interesting, but I'm not the least bit worried. Body language works, and Carole will be here to translate if we need it.
You can also see in the pic a corner of a book (the pink-ish blob in the upper right) which I bought today to cover for a gratitude journal for a friend who really needs to discover some gratitude in her life. Maybe writing things down will help her to see that things just aren't as bad as she thinks. One can only hope!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

TAST - Weeks 45 & 46




Here are my efforts at weeks 45 and 46 of the TAST challenge.
Week 45 is the Pekinese Stitch, which I loved playing with. I had done the simple stitch (shown on the top of the picture) but had never gone further than that. I'm quite in like with the braided look when I did more than one row.
Then, I attempted week 46 - the Chain Braid stitch. Sharon said it was difficult and she is absolutely right. The best of my several efforts is pictured here and it's NOT what it should look like. This stitch will not be taking up residence in my permanent repertoire, altho, to be fair, I could see it's use in something where I wanted a totally messy look. Sharon asked at the end of her post that we not curse her too much and I didn't. However, there were a few words uttered aimed at the stitch! For those of you wanting to see how it should be done, check out http://sharonb.wordpress.com

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Letter 'H'


H is for HELP, which is what I need right now. Chain Braid Stitch for the TAST challenge is getting the better of me and I'm going down for the last time....picture to follow tomorrow ( I hope).



H is for house and here's the picture of the front of ours. The two blobs in the front of it are NO (ahem) relation!!

H is for helmet liners. And why, you ask, would I be interested in helmet liners? One of the mailing lists I belong to (knitting content) was talking about the need for warm knitted liners for the soldiers to wear under their helmets. It gets very cold and they need the small comfort of something they can wear underneath. I'm sure the comfort also comes from the thought that someone cared enough to make them something. Right now I'm trying to find a place in Canada that gets them to where they're needed. I know I can send them to the US, but I think our soldiers must need them too. If you're interested in the pattern and in finding out more check out: http://www.geocities.com/helmetliner/

H is for Huh! What's with this weather we're having right now? It's NOVEMBER for cryin out loud. It's CANADA. We're supposed to be cold. We're supposed to have snow by now. These double-digit temps are just not right. I'm not a fan of winter, but even I know that this isn't healthy. Global warming...bah!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Gee!


Today I will visit the letter 'G'. The picture is of our dog Gypsy (more commonly known as Gyppy). She's a combination of llasa apso and shih tzu, but is mostly bark and wiggles. This isn't a particularly wonderful picture of her but, of course, my camera needs to be recharged so I had to resort to scanning an older picture of her.
G is for geocities, where I *think* I still have a website my #2 son started for me a couple of years ago. I never go there, but I do know there's a picture of me on there if you're really, really curious about what I look like (gag, choke!). http://www.geocities.com/marmic1954/index.html Oh!...gag is a G word!!
G is for 'great', which is what my husband is. He's busily tearing off wallpaper border in one of the guest bedrooms and getting ready to paint it. Of course the border is being stubborn and refusing to come off without a great deal of effort on his part. I, on the other hand, am spending my time happily working on Christmas presents and feeling guilty for not helping him (another g word is guilt!). The room is going to be a huge undertaking because right now it's painted a very dark navy blue and will require who knows how many coats of primer/paint to get it covered. He offered to do it and who am I to be stupid enough to say no? However, I do freely admit that he's great (and he cooks too!!).

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Oh Futz! That's an F word, right?


For lack of anything more exciting to talk about today, I shall visit the letter 'F'.
F is for Futz. Yep, that's a good word. It's the only printable one I can use to describe my knitting abilities at the moment. 210 stitches, on circular needles x 4 pattern rows + a twist= Futz. Or more aptly described: Futzed Up. Argh!
F is for Floozie. Those who have followed this blog for awhile have already met 'Doll E, the fairy floozie', but I decided to show her again in honour of today being an F day. If you enlarge the picture you can probably see why she earned her name!
F is for Friends, both internet and in person. Where would we be without them? I really treasure the ones I have and really can't imagine my life without them.
On another subject, I've been reading 'Ripe Living After 50' by Susan Swartz and discovered something in there I really liked and thought I would share:
"They used to say that women over thirty-five shouldn't wear their hair long. They used to say women over forty-five shouldn't show their bare arms. They used to say all women over fifty better dye their hair and lie about their age. They used to say after baby-making women had nothing more to contribute. They used to say that menopausal women couldn't be world leaders. THEY didn't know we'd stopped listening."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The best laid plans...

....are bound to run amuck! Can someone please explain to me how one person can manage to ignore the fact that there's a 'certain' day in December and that it's bound to happen every year and that there's certain things needing to be done for said day and that leaving said certain things because 'there's plenty of time' is not exactly the least stressful thing to do?


Can someone explain to me how one person could manage to get herself bogged down in knitting projects when that person had been heard to say in no uncertain terms that she would NEVER have more than one project on the needles? And why would that person think (in her wildest fantasies) that she could possibly knit all these projects up in time for Christmas when she knits the speed of a turtle? No, don't bother telling me that the tortoise won the race!


Can that same someone come up with any ideas as to why that same one person could manage to futz so much time on a ridiculous box that has no bearing on anything needing to be done in the near future. Better yet, can someone suggest anything to remove too much gold leafing from said box?


Any someones out there want to come and help that one person knit??

Monday, November 05, 2007

Of snakes, and suppers, and kids

How do you like this? Our oldest son & his fiance had us come for supper last night so we could meet his new pet. Isn't she cool? Before you ask, yes this is my hand holding her! Right now her name is Rosie, but that's soon to change to a name which is befitting her. She's a type of boa, but I can't remember what exactly. She won't get much bigger than she is here because she's two years old already.

We had the greatest supper too (it pays to have a son who's a good chef!). Rack of lamb, fingerling potatoes, a wonderful leek soup, mushrooms in sauce, a homemade mint sauce, and a purely decadent chocolate banana crepe for dessert. Yum!! It was even nicer because #2 son was there too, so we got to see them both. All in all, a great evening!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

TAST - Weeks 43 & 44


Here's my Weeks 43 and 44 of the Take A Stitch Tuesdays challenge by Sharon of http://sharonb.wordpress.com.
On the left is my effort at week 43's Drizzle Stitch. This one was a lot of fun and yet another stitch I hadn't tried. I found that it worked better in a hoop, at least for me. I don't normally use a hoop but think it works better this way.
On the right is week 44's ZigZag Spanish Knotted Stitch. This one was also a lot of fun, once I got the rhythm going. I love it and would carry it through with some flowers or beads in the centres. Thanks again Sharon!
I have stumbled across another interesting web site if you are interested in doll making: http://www.ejtaylor.com Thanks to Lisa Vollrath of Ten Two Studios for telling us about this one. Check it out!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The letter E

EEEK! Hope everyone had a fun halloween!


Sorry to say, there are no pictures today because the box pretty much looks the same in a picture as it did yesterday. I've dry-brushed it with purple and am now ready for the gold leaf which I hope to get done tomorrow.


So...we will visit the letter E today:

1. 'E'mbroidery! My absolute favourite. My library sports lots of books on the subject, a few of which I will list here.....two books by Judith Baker Montano - 'Elegant Stitches' and 'Floral Stitches'; 'Treasury of Crazy Quilt Stitches' by Carole Samples; 'Quilt Savvy - Embroidery Stitches' by Joan Waldman; 'Stumpwork Embroidery' by Jane Nicholas; and 'Embroidery Illusions' by Gary Clarke. I love them all! And, of course, I can't discuss embroidery without re-mentioning the wonderful Sharon Boggins and her site http://sharonb.wordpress.com/ She has what has to be THE most thorough how-to's on stitching on the internet (or anywhere, for that matter). Another free source for some interesting embroidery (leaning toward crazy quilting) is the on-line magazine at http://cqmagonline.com/


2. Further on embroidery (notice my obsession?) - I collect patterns and stitches (and combinations) and have quite an extensive file. Someday I might even be able to use a small portion of it (should I live that long!).


3. 'E' is for empty, which is what my head is at the moment. Surely there must be other 'e' words, but for the life of me I can't come up with any. I may have to re-visit the letter later on!