Sunday, December 31, 2006

Bringing in the New Year.....

As 2007 is beginning all around the world, I wish you a very happy New Year! May your resolutions for this year include finding your creative muse and inviting her to come in and stay for a while.....

May this coming year bring you many happy and homemade moments!

Christmas tree themes

Using a theme for a Christmas tree is lots of fun. This is a photo of my mother's tree. Originally it started with her stuffing all her snowmen, of which she has hundreds, into the tree. Later, it developed to the snowmen ornaments, snowflakes and small snowmen that you see here. I made her the snowman tree skirt using wool felt and some red quilt farbic. I even used make-up to give them rosey cheeks. (Don't forget to click on the photo to enlarge. You can really see the snowman on the tree skirt when enlarged.)

UFO finished!

I have an unbelievable amount of quilt UFOs sitting in my quilt studio waiting for attention. Some are samples for classes that I never finished while others are samples for the quilt group's projects. I have to move on quickly to the next idea for the group so many get left in their unfinished stage. There are also many quilts I start for myself but get so busy with ideas for the quilt group that they also become left behind and forgotten.

I decided I really have to do something about finishing many of these UFOs. I went through my quilt rack where they are all hanging and pulled out two. Both are quilts I made for myself (not part of the quilt group's projects). One is being handquilted now and I will share photos of it very soon. This little blue and white quilt has been hanging all quilted on the rack waiting for the binding and quilt label for longer than I care to admit. I sewed the binding on and drew a quilt label so now it is added to the finished quilts. I call this quilt 'Delft Blue (Dutch tiles)' and the tulip I drew on the label is from a photo of an antique delft blue tile I found online.

Quilt labels are so important. I really think we need to always place the information about the quilt on it for future generations. To me, I think they add that little personal touch also.

A Christmas stitch

This was an adorable freebie from a French site that a friend (hello Francoise) shared on one of my lists. I wanted something easy to stitch during the long Christmas weekend and this seem the perfect thing. I used DMC 321 and unbleached linen for a simple, festive look.

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Christmas Greeting.....

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.

~~ Agnes M. Pharo ~~

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A new candle centerpiece

A Christmas candle is a lovely thing;
It makes no noise at all,
But softly gives itself away. ~~Eva Logue

Yesterday, I had to run to the garden center to buy a couple of gifts to take along with my to Brugge on Tuesday. I wanted a little something to give the owner of the B&B. While there, I found some beautiful ornaments and tinsel for myself that I could not resist and inspired me to come home and create this candle arrangement. I had the candles and plate already. I am really pleased with how this looks. It gives the prettiest glow in the evenings.

My Christmas gift

These are the beautiful ornaments that Nancy stitched for me. She says she picked these patterns because I quilt and the Ohio Star as that is the state I am originally from.

I love them Nancy! Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A secret gift revealed

I had a fun thing happen tonight! I had received a gift in the mail from an online friend, Nancy, and had made her one also. We arranged to wait until we both had them in the mail and open them together. We got on IM together and opened the gifts at the same time. It was such fun! I will show you her beautiful gifts she made me tomorrow.
Here you can see the quilt I made for her. I was inspired by the photo of her pinkeep during our SAL. The glass bowl she used to display her pinkeep resulted in this quilt.
This photo shows the metallic gold quilting thread that I used for this quilt which has been quilted by hand. I had this thread for a while now and this is the first quilt I used it on. It works very easily which I was concerned about and I loved the results. I will be using it more often in the future.

Friday, December 15, 2006

My lace Christmas corner

This is my lace corner for the holidays. I love making bobbin lace ornaments. There are also a few ornaments made by my mother on her embroidery machine and a crochet ornament given to me as a gift by my niece.

This tree is the same tree used for the autumn if you read my blog regularly. It is fun to use it for the various themes and seasons.

The angel is 'Angel of Hope' from Lavender and Lace. I seem to like her earlier angels the best. I think it is because I still remember the excitement of visiting my parents in the States and discovering these designs for the first time.

The lace tree lit up in the evening gives a really romantic look. The lace catches the light beautifully.

Some detail photos of the lace for those who like bobbin lace.

Some ornaments take days of work while others can be made up in just an afternoon.

I used an ivory linen thread combined with various thicknesses of metallic gold thread for my ornaments.

This is actually to wrap around a candle but I loved using it in the tree. It was made with thick metallic thread.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas tablerunner

This tablerunner is a the first mystery project I did for my quilt group. It is a pattern called 'Friendship Star' and is a very simple one to sew. Made in a large block as this really shows off fabric with a larger motif.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas angels

This was my bargain find of this year. I got these in August while in Brugge (Bruges), Belgium at a Christmas shop. I just fell in love with them and they were really affordable. The lady told me they made a mistake when ordering them. Someone added an extra '0' to the amount ordered and they had them marked down low as they had too many. I was thrilled and bought them to give as a 'Christmas card' for my group. I just printed out a little tag and tied it to the angel with a raffia bow.

I am so happy to say I am going to Brugge again on Tuesday for a one night stay to see it lit for Christmas. I can't wait and it will be a nice break after this busy time.

Christmas gift exchange

I have been working on this gift for our quilt group's gift exchange this year. I am so pleased with how it turned out! I was out with a friend at IKEA and saw this magazine rack. This idea popped into my head as soon as I saw it and we both bought them to make for the ladies names we drew. Since the 'holder' is canvas attached with velcro, we simply sewed patchwork together and then hand appliqued it onto the canvas on both sides. It will make a perfect project basket. We will give them their presents at the same time. They are the same except for the colors of the fabrics we choose which fit the favorite colors of the ladies themselves. I can't wait to give my gift away!

Tonight is the Christmas party and I am working on all the last arrangements. It is very busy so I am neglecting all my lists at the moment. I hope to share many fun photos with you in the coming days.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I must have been a good girl this year!

...or I have really good friends...or both! Look what the postman dropped off at my house. I feel so very spoiled with all this wonderful stash as a Christmas gift. It was so fun to go through it all. Thanks so very much to my friend Joni! I am so glad we 'met' on our stitching list and proud to call you a friend.

Santa mirror

I stitched this series of Santas over the first 10 years of DH and I being together. Normally I have them sitting in a disply with a miniature tree and sleigh but this year wanted to do something different with them. I have created a Santa mirror by our front door. They are hung in a garland and wreather over the mirror. The tall painted Santa is one my mother made for me. He looks so cute standing by this tall mirror.

I believe in you?

Monday, December 11, 2006

My Christmas basket ornaments

The last few months, I was very busy putting these Christmas basket ornaments together. They are from a magazine called 'For the Love of Quilting' by Fons and Porter. I do a 'Christmas in July' project each year for my quilt group. This was the project we did this July and I decided they would be fun to use for the ornament exchange I did with one of my Yahoo lists. All the ornaments have been sent out and since I just got mine, I know it is okay to share the ones I made with you.

These pentagon shapes are covered with fabric and then hand sewn together. I added small glass beads to the top edge along with a wired gold ribbon to hang them on the tree. The baskets are filled with a single red rose.

1853 needlework sampler

"In the glad morn of blooming youth
These various threads I drew,
And now behold this finished piece
Lies glorious to the view.

So when bright youth shall charm no more
And age shall chill my blood,
May I review my life and say
Behold my works were good."

This weekend, we drove the 'DrentsRondje' while at our cottage up north. It is a route you can follow stopping at various beautiful farms and old houses. Some of the homes are lived in by artists which open them to the public each Christmas to view their works. There is a wine tasting at one farm, a B&B open house, homemade ice cream, etc..

We visited two places, one being a historic farm that has been turned into a museum. There were a number of beautiful pieces of needlework hanging there. They are part of the museum's collection. They also had an exhibition with various examples of clothing, lace and needlework. There were four ladies doing their crafts.

I wanted to share one of the needlework samplers hanging in the museum. This is from 1853 and depicts a hunter holding his bounty, swans, various angels, flowers and birds. There is no verse on the sampler but it contains a number of intials.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Crazy quilt tablerunner

Here is a photo of my crazy quilt Christmas tablerunner. I created this by sewing 4 diamond shaped crazy quilted pieces together and adding a border. I used metallic quilt fabrics only on this project.

The crazy quilting is finished by adding various ribbons and trims found at Christmas time (these are not expensive trims but those used for wrapping gifts) and a few from a French style habedashery. I wanted to create a more modern version of crazy quilting by using only the ribbons and trims instead of any fancy stitches. This piece is one I created for a workshop I gave to stimulate interest in the craft of crazy quilting by looking at it in a little different way.

The first photo shows this quilt on show for the workshop while the second photo is the arrangement I have on my dining room table this year.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Vintage ornament

I found this wonderful reproduction ornament in Germany last year. It is from on old Clark's thread add. She is just adorable sitting on the spool of thread. I hope your Christmas will be full of homemade items that give warmth to your heart!

From home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another. The warmth and joy of Christmas, brings us closer to each other.
~~ Emily Matthews ~~

Christmas card tree quilt

I designed this quilt for a workshop quite a number of years ago. It was fun to make and gives a whimsical place to hang all my Christmas cards.

"Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf. The good you do for others is good you do yourself."

~Norman W. Brooks, "Let Every Day Be Christmas"

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Celebrate Christmas with a good book

Each year I have a tradition to reread 'The Christmas Mystery' by Jostein Gaarder. This is a story about a little boy in Oslo, Norway who goes with his father to buy a magical Advent calendar. He finds a story unfolding as he opens a window each morning. Each chapter in the book is one of the days on the calendar. I use this book as an Advent calendar for myself reading a chapter each day. I won't reveal too much as I would really recommend looking for this book. It is wonderful story that you too may want to read over and over each December.

I am also sharing a photo of a Victorian style Christmas sign I stitched about 4 years ago. Each year we hang this in the living room.

Friday, December 01, 2006

New stash

My husband has a day off today so we went to the city of Utrecht for a while. We have not been there in 3 or 4 years. I was disappointed to see a number of the shops I loved going to were no longer there. Fortunately, there are two great shops that still exist. I first went to a shop where they sell only trimmings and tassles. I found some great glass head pins and trims for future pinkeeps. I then went to a very old needlework shop where I bought two small cuts of Jobelan fabric and charms (stock scissors, 3 snowflakes and 3 stars). We did not really want to go in any of the many clothes and shoe stores so we had an Italian sandwich by the canal and then coffee and a pastry in a shop before heading back home.

Christmas Stars

This 'Christmas Stars' quilt hangs on my quilt wall in the living room each year. Along side it, is a present made for me by my niece, Kristy. The wooden stockings say 'the stockings were hung'. They look so adorable alongside the quilt.

December is here!

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

'We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,'
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

~~ Oliver Herford ~~

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A gift shared with a friend

I can now share this gift I made for a friend. She emailed me that the package arrived. Joanne is my autumn sister on one of my Yahoo groups and we have enjoyed this glorious season together writing each other. She has two loves that I share with her ~ the autumn and all its beauty and Christmas.

I had been going through a basket of WIPs looking for one I wanted to work on when I found a couple of holiday projects that were stitched and not finished. I decided that this pillow cover would make the perfect gift for her. The moment I unfolded it, it reminded me of her list of favorite Christmas music on her holiday blog!

Autumn has been more fun sharing it with you Joanne!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A patchwork tree skirt

In these busy days, it is harder to put much on my blogs but I do try to keep up. I wanted to share a patchwork tree skirt I made two Christmasses ago. We had just bought our tiny cottage and I was creating a tree for there. I had a pencil pine tree and needed a tree skirt that was in proportion to that skinny tree. I sewed a single quilt block and cut into the center where I carefully cut out a circle to fit the tree. I cut the block into a hexagon shape. I was very pleased with how it turned out.

I have just about completed the hand quilting on my log cabin swap quilt. I will be preparing the bias binding tonight. I will share photos of it in the next few days.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Needlework quote for Monday

Painting by Daniel Ridgway Knight called 'The Village Seamstress'

"To return to the children: I have just had another proof of Goldilocks' good influence," said Mrs. Jo, drawing her chair nearer the sofa, where the Professor lay resting after a long day's work in his various gardens. "Nan hates sewing, but for love of Bess has been toiling half the afternoon over a remarkable bag in which to present a dozen of our love-apples to her idol when she goes. I praised her for it, and she said, in her quick way, 'I like to sew for other people; it is stupid sewing for myself.' I took the hint, and shall give her some little shirts and aprons for Mrs. Carney's children. She is so generous, she will sew her fingers sore for them, and I shall not have to make a task of it."

"But needlework is not a fashionable accomplishment, my dear."

"Sorry for it. My girls shall learn all I can teach them about it, even if they give up the Latin, Algebra, and half-a-dozen ologies it is considered necessary for girls to muddle their poor brains over now-a-days. Amy means to make Bess an accomplished woman, but the dear's mite of a forefinger has little pricks on it already, and her mother has several specimens of needlework which she values more than the clay bird without a bill, that filled Laurie with such pride when Bess made it."

From "Little Men" by Louisa May Alcott

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

"Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving."
~~ W T Purkiser

For all who celebrate this day and even those who do not, may today be one in which you reflect on what this past year has blessed you with and may you find true happiness in those blessings.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A special place in my living room

On one of my lists recently, we talked about an area of our home we were very proud of. This is a corner in my living room that makes me smile. I had been inspired a number of years ago by an article I read in Victoria magazine. It was a December issue and had photos of an author's home. This was the results of that inspiration. I created a special space using my antique side table. It contains many things I love ~ some of my antique books, an antique tea caddy, a few pieces of my homemade lace, antique eye glasses and opera glasses, reproduction Victorian cards, my hunt prints and miniatures. My lamps are on dimmers so I can create a low lighting in the evenings.

If you click on the photos, you will be able to see the items in more detail.

The lacemaker's prayer

"Lord, let me grow old like beautiful lace, cherished and treasured and care for with grace."

This is a Slovanian type of lace called 'Idrija'. It is a kind of tape lace that is made using only about six pairs of bobbins. I really enjoy making this kind of lace. The pattern meanders back and forth until you come back to where you start and bind off.

You can enlarge to photo to see the lace closer up.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pinkeep finish

Just wanted to share a finish with you again. I was able to make this pinkeep today. I stitched the design 'Dress Warm' by Heart in Hand (Mother's Wisdom) over the weekend. It is a fun winter pinkeep.

Monday's fall quote

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stain'd
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may'st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

"The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust'ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather'd clouds strew flowers round her head.

"The spirits of the air live in the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.
"Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat,
Then rose, girded himself, and o'er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.

~~ William Blake ~~

This photo is taken by our front door. Autumn's bounty is beautiful. Soon I will be starting on my holiday decorations but now we are having our peak in autumn colors here in Holland. The season is very late this year due to the warm weather we have been experiencing. Many of the trees still even have green leaves.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Celebrate the seasons with me on my new blog

Even though I will continue to add poetry and sayings to this blog, I felt I wanted to create a blog dedicated to my reflections of the passing times. This idea came to me when a friend Hazel commented that she enjoyed autumn much more this year as a result of my thoughts and sharing my decorating. I was so touched that it had an effect on her to stop and savour the moments. I sincerely hope that you will also celebrate the seasons with me as time passes.....Stop by and leave your own comments on my new blog.

A secret finish

Last night, I finished making my Christmas ornaments for an exchange on one of my lists. I will be mailing them today thankfully. They were hard work but I hope they will bring enjoyment to all the others participating. I cannot share a photo yet as they are to be a surprise for everyone receiving them. I will borrow a cute idea from Tracy whom is also participating by simply showing you a beautiful Christmas picture with the promise of photos of the ornaments once the exchange is complete.

Tammy, the ornaments will be on their way to you now today. Thanks so much for organizing this for us!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Autumn poetry in picture and words

Besides the autumn poets sing,
A few prosiac days
A little this side of the snow
And that side of the haze.

A few incisive mornings,
A few ascetic eves,
Gone Mr. Bryant's golden rod,
And Mr. Thomson's sheaves.

Still is the bustle in the brook,
Sealed are the spicy valves;
Mesmeric fingers softly touch
The eyes of many elves.

Perhaps a squirrel may remain,
My sentiments to share.
Grant me, O Lord, a sunny mind,
Thy windy will to bear!

~~ Emily Dickinson ~~

Photo of our red maple just before the leaves started to fall this past weekend.