Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Angel has Landed--or, I finished my son's angel. Finally!

This is my take on MLI's Angel of Love, which I have seen done in the original colors, and she is quite lovely done in the golds, colonial blues, bronze and brown. But you see, about the time I decided to stitch her, DMC had come out with this glorious set of turquoise blues, for reference, the color numbers are 3844-3846. They were perfect for her cape, and so I decided to change the color, and hey, the golds, bronzes and browns that went into her skirt were still gorgeous with the cape...But the blouse clashed horribly, so I had to change that color, and some of the skirt was done in the blouse colors...I'm sure you can see where this is going. Anyway, I ended up changing pretty much everything, with the exception of her skin, some browns and avocado greens in her cape and vest, and the white of her wings--um, skirt. Because I did her wings in white, but rayon floss rather than cotton, and changed the shadowing to lilac instead of gray. And the darkest shading on the wings I did in a Madeira blending filament that I got at the :-( sadly now out of business yarn and stitching shop called Wild and Wooly.

Here is a picture of the angel as I did her. The current plan is to "wall-hanging" her. I usually make stitched pieces into things other than framed pictures because I am too cheap (err, some say I should say thrifty) to spring for the cost of framing, although I did make an exception for the Arch-Chancellor's Hat due to the vast number of beads and other decorations on it and because it really can't be washed easily. Good news on the angel is that everything is washable, so wall hanging it is. I got some really pretty batik fabric at Seminole Sampler in Catonsville, unfortunately, they only had one fat quarter of the fabric I really liked left. So I am going to get some deep plain blue like the darkest color on her cape, and do a small border of the batik and a second border of deep blue for the hanging.
 This is a closeup of the skirt. I have heard this angel called the "Circuit Board Angel because her skirt looks like a circuit board, but it could also be a crazy quilt. I used sizes 11, 14, and 15 seed beads, mostly from Sundance Beads, with a couple from other sources. The colors of the beads are cobalt AB charlottes in size 15, silver lined light amber AB (Sundance number 634), bronze iris, and green iris in size 14, and in size 11, light blue lined amber AB, silver lined kelly green AB (Sundance number 647), and a matte aqua AB (Sundance number F259B). The rainbow bronze beads were used because they looked so very pretty with the cape blues, and I replaced the original beads used, which were Mill Hill's metallic gold number 557. Oh, and I recently found out that you can get Sundance beads at Bedecked and Bedazzled in Lutherville MD, phone number is 410-296-0405.

 For the halo and aura, I changed the original gold beads and gold metallic thread to Rainbow Gallery's Precious metals Mini Garland (number PM5) and also their Tiara (number T108). The beads in her hair are a bunch of assorted blue and bronze beads, including the rainbow bronze from her skirt, and some very small triangle beads by Miyuki. I also changed the ball she is holding to kind of look like the earth, at which my daughter decided that if everything was to scale, the angel was pretty big.

 The reason this is my son's angel is because when I started her he was around five years old, and after I had finished the face and hair looked at her in awe and said, "Oh, Mommy! That angel is so pretty! Mommy, if you give me that angel, I will hang her at the head of my bead, and every night I'll look at it and think of you." Um. Could I have said no at that point?

This is a piece by Elizabeth Foster, and, for those who keep track, is done in the colors she called for...I guess you could call it a Christmas Miracle. I did notice that the chart and the cover picture are not the same.

For those who work with the public at this time of year, remember that they are suffering from PTSD--Post Thanksgiving Stress Disorder. Not to make fun of those who do have PTSD, myself included, but sometimes if you can laugh at something it makes it easier to bear. And some of the people who go Christmas shopping--Ai! I mean, if it makes you feel that cranky, stay home and don't buy so much. No one needs more stuff as much as they need the gift of a happy person.

Last, but hardly least, I have no affiliation to any of the above named companies or people, aside from attempting to collect as much of their product as I can safely squirrel away in my stash file drawers, dressers, shelves, big and little boxes, etc...

THE Magpie

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oh to be by the Ocean, now that Fall is here

I belong to a group called the Tangle, stitchers of all sorts and ages who get together once a month to stitch and also to show off our stitching. We discussed the twelve steps stitchers might use, but we got to the first one, "We admit we have a problem regarding acquisition of stash", and decided there was no problem there, except for the problem of where to store it all.

Anyway, the Tangle met at Ocean City, and oh did we have fun. I finished two projects, the Jane Nicholas piece and also my Arch-Chancellor's Hat piece. Here is the photo of the Jane Nicholas piece. I think it turned out very well indeed.
This is the first piece of stumpwork where I have done the detached petals and leaves, and I really leapt in at the deep end with this one, as I had five flower petals, four dragonfly wings, three raspberries and two leaves to stitch and cut out. Oh, yeah, there was no partridge and no pear tree, but that might make a cute piece to do in stumpwork, along with the other eleven days of christmas.  I was a bit nervous about cutting out the petals and leaves, but I figured I had done the dragonfly wings, so I went ahead and snipped, but I did take them up to the room and did them in total silence. I think it turned out very well indeed. I am thinking of making an etui (that is a little sewing box that has a lid that you remove and the box kind of falls open like a flower) and putting this piece on the lid.

I also put the last ornamentation on the Arch-Chancellor's Hat, and also wrote in and backstitched the quote from Terry Pratchett's book "Sourcery", "When it comes to Glittering Objects, Wizards have all the Taste and Self-Control of a Deranged Magpie". I also did my initials in a signature that I came up with years ago, which I thought was very cool also. I sign a lot of my pieces this way.

So the only thing left is to get it framed and choose just the right place to hang it. I had a lot of fun with this piece, and if anyone finds this and wants to make their own version, just ask in the comment section and I'll give some pointers--although, really, I just cut out a hat shaped piece of red velvet that I had stored all balled up so that it would get lots of wrinkles in, and started adding shiny and sparkly stuff to it. Actually, I am thinking of doing another hat, this time from black velvet, and making it a flapper's cloche or something of the sort. But first, I have a plumeria flower to design and stitch. Although, maybe the plumeria would look nice on a black velvet cloche... hmmm...

Along with stitching at Ocean City, we also did treks to a shop a couple blocks down the boardwalk that is called Salty Yarns, where I got some new fabric for cross stitching, a couple of kits to stitch up, and the turtle bead on the hat, If you look closely at the picture, you may also notice a small shell just under the blue tassel, it is a shell I picked up on the beach and added as a memento of the trip. I got a couple of chances to sit on the beach and watch the waves as well, which is amazingly calming to the nerves.

THE Magpie

Thursday, October 21, 2010

More on the Arch Chancellor's hat

So, I drive two ladies to a bible study at the church we currently attend, and go to the bible study so that they won't feel like I am inconveniencing myself, as neither of them drive, and so I started driving them. This is the church that I was making the altar frontal for, all those flowers. Remember them? Well, the rector asked how they were coming along at the meeting, and I mumbled something non committal which apparently reassured her that they were coming along fine, when what I really should have said, was, "I'm not working on them. I am angry at you, and as a result, any time I work on them my threads knot and break, my imagination goes on vacation, and what started as a joy has become a chore that I avoid, just as I avoid thinking about you. The altar guild should make a set of hangings however they want, waiting on me is silly." It seems that the altar guild has been putting off getting fabric to make a white set of hangings because they didn't know what kind of fabric I would like to sew the flowers onto, as the jacquard that is usually used for hangings and such is very slippery. Anyway, I'll see what happens.

I have reached the point where I can pity her, for her non freedom concerning a lot of things. For me, that is the first step toward being able to feel forgiveness.

On to more cheerful thoughts. The Arch Chancellor's Hat! I have been working on this for a while, and put it aside to give it some thought in the back reaches of the old brain, and then started working on it again. Also got a lot of beads and threads organized, and found (okay, I'll come clean, the reason I was organizing things was because I was looking for them) a quartet of beads that I wanted to put on the hat. They are pressed glass beads, pink, and they are elephants. I have to put them on, as Discworld is a flat planet that rests on the shoulders of four elephants, who are standing on the shell of a giant turtle. Yes, I am going to add a turtle as well. So I was pretty excited about finally finding the elephant beads, I've been looking for them for over a week.
Here is a picture of the hat just before I started adding the elephant beads. I have added two star shaped beads with some purple bugle beads and silver lined gold seed beads trailing off them. I also added some red sequins around the central stones.

THE Magpie

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wizard's Hat embroidery piece

I have been doing some clearing out of the house, which it desperately needs, and unearthed my wizard hat project from my pile of unfinished objects. So here it is, from where I started to where it is now.
 This is a hat shaped piece of velvet I cut out of an old dress that I picked up at a yard sale. I was looking for crushed velvet to do things with, and I love the color red. The floss is actually red also, I blacked it out.
 Here is where I stopped last time I worked on it. I have applied a tassel and a large crystal drop to the tip of the hat, and a large flower crystal surrounded by eight octagonal bermuda blue crystals.
Now I've added some pearl and gold colored braid and also a metallic gold fancy braid to the brim of the hat, and also some fresh water pearls around the octagonal crystals. I still have some way to go before this is as fancy as the hat described in the book, but I am well on my way. The book is Sourcery, by Terry Pratchett, and the hat is described on page 10, if I recall correctly. Readers of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books will understand this next bit best, but gold lace is involved, and ankhstones, which are like rhinestones but a different river. Having been unable to acquire any octarines here, I used octagonal crystals in Bermuda blue in their place. I still need to add sequins, and totally over do the decoration, as the hat is described. Overdoing is necessary, as, "When it comes to glittering objects, wizards have all the taste and self-control of a deranged magpie." Um. Well, now you know where my screen name came from.

Here are the leaves from the Jane Nicholas piece. I decided to do long and short stitch to fill. I have finished filling one of the leaves, and the other is partially filled. Once I finish that, I just have to add the veining, cut them out and apply them.  The masking tape is covering the stems of wire, so that they don't catch on the thread as I stitch, one of the tips that Jane gave us in class.

THE Magpie

Monday, October 11, 2010


I have a daughter in high school. She is bright, loves to learn, is very good at math, reads incessantly, and has the meticulousness that I never had, so she does well in science. She wants to be a veterinarian, with a sideline of exotic pet care. And, she hates to go to school. This is a child who reads everything. Biographies, science texts, every fantasy novel she can lay her hands on. Everything is grist for her brain mill. And I enjoy seeing how it comes back out when she has mulled ideas over in her head.

And she hates to go to school. She hates the incessant homework. The tests. The boredom of it all. This is a child in the accelerated classes, and she is bored.

I have no idea what can be done about that, but I do remember feeling the same way in school. Why isn't learning fun? Why does it always have to be so serious? And why is there such an emphasis on grades, as if they are the reason for the learning? Why can't children learn something just because?

THE Magpie

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Goldwork and Stumpwork, this time with photos!

Of the stumpwork. I have yet to do any goldwork, although I have played with some of the materials. Anyway, the Jane Nicholas piece is still moving forward. I have finished the five petals for the hellebore blossom...
 ...and now I just need to cut them out and apply them. Deep breath here, but I survived cutting out the dragonfly wings, so everything should be fine, so long as I am careful and don't have anyone watching. I finally taught my daughter that the one way to cause hilarious pratfalls or failures to perform as planned was to shout, "Watch this!" as you did some amusing athletic/magic trick. Maybe I should stitch a sixth petal as a spare, in case of cutting errors. Hmmm. That sounds like a good plan, and a way to delay the scissor thing.

Here, I have finished outlining one of the two leaves, and the other is mostly done. After I finish the outlines, I will be filling the interiors of the leaves. There is a very faint oval drawn on the leaf fabric, that will be the final raspberry. I will be doing it with very light red, a peachy pink, and a very pale green floss in french knots, and of course, some beads.

Still waiting on a last email from Benton and Johnson, regarding sequins and spangles. The spangles are probably more authentic, but the sequins are heaps less expensive. So now I just have to find out it the sequins are flat or cupped. If they are flat, I am going that route, at least for now. If I decide in future to do a goldwork/stumpwork/Elizabethan embroidery priest's stole and want to use the spangles I'll definitely rethink the miserly route.

Also, I've been thinking that I have got to try doing a plumeria blossom in stumpwork. I think it would be a show stopper, and the flowers come in such a variety of coloring that it would be fun to embroider as well. And, speaking of plumeria, one of my stubs has developed what I think may be flower buds, about a year before I expected any. Here is a picture of it.

THE Magpie

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On goldwork and stumpwork

Found an awesome information entry in wikipedia regarding goldwork, with definitions and everything, which is good, as I have plans to do a pair of Jane Nicholas tiles from her new book. Well, actually, they are from the Inspirations Magazine out of Australia, issues 66 and 67. Issue 66 has a diamond shaped tile with a tulip, and issue 67 has a name tag with another tulip and knapweed, which looks a lot like thistle. For those interested, the website for Inspirations magazine is, and these are the two most recent issues. But I still intend to get the book.

Anyway, the goldwork entry address is:
I know that you can't always trust what is in wikipedia, but I cross referenced the information with that from the website for Benton and Johnson, as I need some materials relating to goldwork to do the two tiles. If you do, or want to try, goldwork, I advise visiting their site, for a fairly comprehensive selection of threads and wires. I don't know about pricing, as I have not really done this sort of thing, but they seemed reasonable to me.

I have no pictures today, as I have to get batteries for my camera--the new one is nice but it _Eats_ batteries. I do have an idea in my head for a box with another stumpwork piece I did mounted on the top. I'll post a picture of the piece pretty soon, as well as the box in progress. I also think I shall go back to the Benton and Johnson website to drool over pretty colored metal thread.

Oh, and a plug for Benton and Johnson. They sell the metal threads by the gram, but when I contacted them to ask for lengths of things, they got back to me the next day, and by the following day I had the information I needed. So kudos to them for their customer service, even for a new and untried customer. Kind of made me eager to toss money at them, if you see what I mean, even if they didn't have totally droolworthy stuff, which they do. Absolutely.

THE Magpie

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Queen of Stumpwork, Jane Nicholas, Thank you for teaching me!

The class with Jane Nicholas was totally awesome. She is very nice and a great teacher. If I get a chance to take another class with her, I will absolutely take the opportunity. And she has a new book out, Stumpwork & Goldwork Embroidery Inspired by Turkish, Syrian & Persian Tiles, and she showed us the actual pieces that were photographed for the book. Yum! They are so, so gorgeous.

So on to the class project. It is a stumpwork piece, with a dragonfly, raspberries, two leaves, a hellebore flower, and some wrapped bead berries with detached-work cups. Here is a picture of three of the petals for the flower. They are done with wire couched around the petal shape, then I did buttonhole over the wire. Next, I did a short row of long and shot buttonhole stitch around the outer half of the flower, slanting down toward the inner point. Then I filled in the petal with long and short stitch, and finally added seed stitch in a dark burgundy to add a bit of color to the flower, I love hellebores, they come in a wild variety of colorways. I liked the photo of this one, partly for the contrast between the petal color and the spots.

Next is where I had gotten to on the background as of Thursday morning. The branch with three twigs is the raspberry branch, and it is formed with wrapped chain stitch in DMC floss. The other branch is plain chain stitch, and forms the ivy. The blue "log" is the body of the dragonfly. It will be getting wings, which is the next picture in the queue. The body is formed of two soft cotton strands, which are couched down and then you do a stem stitch anchored by the couching stitches. It looks very cool. I have also seen this stitch used for twigs on larger pieces.

 Here are the dragonfly wings. They are stitched using a fine gauge wire held down with whipped stitches in light aqua rayon machine embroidery thread. The base fabric is a sandwich of aqua chiffon ribbon, metallic fabric like lame in rainbow iridescence both held together with stitch witchery. After the wire is wrapped, veins are stitched in fly stitch down the center in a metallic cord. 

 This is the fabric I did two of the raspberries on. The circles you see is where I cut them out. They were done with french knots using six strands of floss and one wrap. After the knots were finished, I did a running stitch around them, cut out the circle and pulled the running stitches tight to gather the berry into a ball. This is then stitched to the ground fabric at the ends of the twigs. I haven't yet done the sepals, so on the fabric they look rather lonely.
 This is the cupped berry base, my practice one. It seems pretty easy to do, although also it is very easy to get it wrong. Mostly, I was hoping I was doing the knots in the right holes, but it looks pretty nice, I think. Also, one of the leaves is on here in process. It was very neat, the way she showed us to do them. First, you line the wire up along the central stem and couch it, then you whip it all the way to the tip of the leaf. Next, using the same piece of wire, you bend the wire to follow the leaf from the base to the tip, couching all the while, then down to the base again. Finally, you bend the wire out to form the leaf stem and couch the two corners together. Then you do buttonhole stitch all around the outside edge. I have several options for filling, and have yet to decide which I will do.
Here is the piece as of Thursday afternoon, with the dragonfly finished on it. There are also two raspberries applied on it. After I anchored them onto the base fabric, I added some beads in various coordinating shades of red and pink. It gives them a little shine, just like real berries.
After I draw up the directions, I will also be posting the awesome tip Jane gave for starting buttonhole stitch in stumpwork. I never will have to try to figure out how to get it started again. And it is so simple.

THE Magpie

Monday, September 27, 2010

Of cats, and trees, and embroideries

Sadly, a little over a week ago, Einstein, my cat, aged 17.5, died. He was the boss cat of the four we had. So. We currently have three kitties left. Let the Battle for top cat begin. Mostly, the contest seems to be between Nero and Marie who are both a bit over 10 years old.
Nero, that crazy rat bastard who hates everyone

Marie, in whose mouth butter would not dare to melt

Berkeley mostly keeps out of the whole thing, although she will smack at anyone who comes between her and her food. Since she is only a year younger than Einstein, you would think she would be the natural choice for the succession, but she is by nature a shy and retiring sort, hence the nickname Phantom Kitty. For years, people thought we only had one cat, until we found her weakness for grilled meats. Once she found that visitors occasionally handed out grilled meat, she became much more personable, if by that you mean an importuning little mooch.

Berkeley, aka Phantom Kitty, can you believe she is 16 + years of age?
The plumeria count is up to 12, and here are pictures of plumeria seedlings, as I couldn't find any on the web at all, and believe me, I looked. Some of them are starting to grow their first true leaves, the ones that come out after the initial seed based leaflets. I have a bad record of keeping things alive over the winter, so we'll see how I do with these. Here's hoping I do better. I am keeping a record of what I do, so hopefully I won't completely forget about them.

Plumeria seedlings. The center has a nice pair of true leaves.
Tomorrow, and again Thursday, I am taking a Stumpwork class from Jane Nicholas. So you'll be seeing stuff from that here at some point.

Finally, I finished another Cats and Quilts by Diane Graebner, and a little Elizabeth Foster piece that one of my very good friends got me to comfort me over Einstein. Now I have to make a little pillow out of it, once that is done I shall post a picture here.

THE Magpie

Monday, September 20, 2010

Oriental flowers, Black cats, Beaded Cabochons and Quilts

So I have been taking pictures this morning, as promised.

This is a picture of the four Cats and Quilts by Diane Graebner I have finished. There are two more, one is in purples and the last in orange and yellow. I think I may add a bit of turquoise blue to that one as I think it will look nice.

Next up, Kats by Kelly, and Hangin' Out. I did change one thing on these, the outline and the rectangle are charted in black, but I used some of the colors in the piece to do them. Just my personal preference there.

This last of the cats picture is Silly Snobs "You are what you eat" and Springberry Kreek's "Shred your way to the top. Both amused me, and Shred was fun when I was doing the ornaments. How many ways can you do a circle in embroidery? I don't think I have even started plumbing the depths.

These are the flowers that I have finished for the oriental quilt. Clockwise from the top left, they are Tree Peony, Wisteria, Iris and Clematis. I've almost finished Chrysanthemum, but needed a break from the gold metallic cord backstitching.

These are the four vases I've finished. The leftmost one is from Mary Hickmatt's magazine, and the other three are from the kit titled Vase Row. I am using the same kit floss for all the vases, even the magazine ones, and since I am doing them on 18 count Aida rather than the 14 count that came with the kit, and also using one strand of floss rather than two, I don't have to worry about running out.

This is the fabric I will be using as sashing on the oriental quilt. The colors are not what I thought of when I went looking for fabric, but when I put the patches on the fabric it worked.

On to Beading. These are the flat glass marbles that I glued pictures on. I was surprised that as much of the picture is visible in the photo, actually.

This is two opal doublets and a teardrop lapis lazuli cabochon that I did beaded bezels around. The opal on the left I have been calling Dragon's Eye, the middle one is Night Star and the lapis teardrop is Perfect September Day.

This is the last picture today. It is a huge faceted CZ teardrop that I did a beaded bezel around and then made into the centerpiece of a necklace. This one was fun, and tricky, since the back is not flat but pointed and so I had to compensate for that. I used hex beads in size 8, red fire polished crystals, silver lined ruby red size 8 seed beads, dagger beads in antique bronze, gold druk beads, and olive brown fire polish crystals and matte metallic gold size 6 seed beads. I haven't got a name for this one yet.

THE Magpie

Sunday, September 19, 2010

So, here is the plumeria stub I brought back from Hawaii. I planted it and one of the leaves slowly unfurled and spread. They are a very slow growing plant, as these things go. According to the instructions, I can expect more leaves for the next year or so, and then will get flowers.
These are the plumeria seedlings from the seeds I got from Tradewinds. I really didn't expect them to sprout quite so quickly. Some of the seeds I got can take several weeks to months to sprout. I just moved everything indoors as it is starting to get cold outside.
This, I am pretty sure, is the guava tree seedling. I also planted Lilikoi (passion fruit) in the same color/shape of pot, so am guessing on this, but since one is a tree and one is a vine, I am guessing this is the tree seedling. I would have checked online, but there are precious few pictures (ah, make that none) on the net. So in order to alleviate this omission, here is a guava seedling. Unless it is the Lilikoi.
This is the Eastern Empress Rose as far as I've gotten on her. I got some peach colored silver lined seed beads from Michael's and did a row around the petal beads in a peyote variant, I did a running stitch type row and then filled in. After I got the row around the petal bead, I did a sleeve across the bottom of the petal in a peyote type stitch. I have one petal bead lifted so you can see the first row of seed beads.

So, cross stitching. Having gotten tired of endless backstitching in gold metallic cord, I have put away the oriental quilt for a time and begun stitching again on the Black Cat quilt. The patch I am working on is one from a set of six by Diane Graebner, called, appropriately enough, Cats and Quilts. I also have one by Springberry Kreek started, "What Now?" of a cat hanging on the bottom of a bird house.

Which reminds me, I was thinking that I know a lot of stitchers who are also gardeners, and that maybe that is because gardens take a lot of sitting and waiting while seeds sprout etc... and stitching gives something to do while waiting. Not that I don't have plenty of things to occupy myself. But with stitching, I get to do something once, and hold in my hands something that I have made. Let's face it, cleaning house, cooking, washing clothes--they all have to be done over and over. But I never have to stitch a charted piece twice. Even if I give it away after, the memory will live on in my hands. And if I keep the piece, I can sometimes remember what I was doing when I made it. Kind of nice, that.

I am also making jewelry, in preparation for doing a couple of craft fairs. I learned how to do beaded bezels for cabochons, and got some clear flat glass marbles to use. Then I took some of the brochures we brought back from Hawaii and have cut out and glued the pictures to the marbles with some jewelers glue (it dries clear, very nice) and am going to bead around them to make pendants. I think that Jill Oxton did something of the sort in her magazine ages ago. If I recall correctly, she was using photographs.

I'll take a picture of some of the cabochons I've beaded and post them tomorrow, along with pictures of some of the black cats and some of the flowers etc...

THE Magpie

Friday, September 17, 2010

Very Sad Day

Einstein at 16
This is in memory of my cat Einstein, who passed away at 1:00 today aged 17.5.  This picture is from about a year ago, and you may notice it is the same as the one I use in my profile. I like it because it is very much the way he looked when he wanted something from you, and the something was generally food oriented. Einstein was a cat who loved his meals, and any treats or table scraps he could cadge were happily accepted. He didn't believe in running for anything, except meals. Actually, that proclivity was why I knew he was ready to go, he wouldn't eat kitty treats or deli roast beef, both of which he loved with all his heart.

Shortly after my daughter learned to walk, she started a chase game with Einstein. It ended when she caught up with him and tackled him. After she had him pinned, he would start meowing piteously. But I told him that he could walk faster than she could, and if he ran... So he got no sympathy from me there.

He loved to visit my Mother-in-law, as he could always, always convince her that he was absolutely starving to death, and no one loved him but her, which he just knew because she was going to feed him, right, and not just the pitiful amount that we gave him for meals either. She always asked if we ever fed him.

I remember when I got Einstein. We had just got the house, and were moved in and had most everything settled, and so I went to the local shelter to get a cat. Well, I filled out the survey form, gave them a check for the payment, and was told, "come back in a week to pick up your cat."

"But," I sputtered, "can't I take him home now? I have a harness and leash here, and we have food and a dish, and a litter pan and litter. We are all ready for him!"

They let me take him that day. I still think it was because I had gotten all the supplies needed for owning a cat before I went to get the cat. But I don't know for sure. Driving back with him, they put him in a cardboard carrier with round holes in it. They were big enough that Einstein could fit his leg out, so I got to see his long white legs and paws poke out the holes and wildly wave around. I finally let him out of the box, and the rest of the way home he circled from my lap, over my shoulders and down to my lap again.

He loved riding in cars. When my husband had his sedan, Einstein liked to sit in the back window on the ledge and watch what was going on. He also liked to sit in the driver's lap and rest his front paws on your arm while looking out the driver side window. He never sat on the passenger side that way.

We got a kitten when Einstein was about a year old. That was when we found out that he was a caretaker kitty. He would hold her down and wash her face for her, and at bedtime, he would curl up around her.

Anyway, I'll get back to stitching tomorrow, hopefully have something more to tell about the quilts I'm doing.

THE Magpie, sad because saying goodbye is no fun.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cats. More Cats. And, of course, stitching. And Hawaii. And quilts, but not Hawaiian quilts, not yet anyway.

So aside from the flowers and vases quilt that has grown a bit with time, I also have a long term cat quilt that I've been working on.

Cats have been on my mind today, partly because in an ongoing effort to eradicate the fleas (I have a dog. He goes on walks. He brings home fleas. Yeesh!) everyone got a bath. Yes, I give my cats baths. No, they don't like it. But after a few dozen kitty candies, they start sitting on my lap again. So. I had four cats, two children and a dog in an eight by five foot bathroom, and no, that isn't enough room. But I got it done, and everyone is much more flea free than previously, and so I could get back to my stitching and gardening.

So, I have four cats, so you can tell that I love cats. I also love humor, and there are several designers who do cat designs that are humorous. So I started accumulating them. And stitching some. And realizing that framing was _not_ an option if we wanted to keep the house, not to mention not having near enough wall space. So, the black cats quilt idea was born. The designs I have for the quilt are from several different lines, Kats By Kelly, Diane Graebner, Silly Snobs and Springberry Kreek, all of which I have located on the web doing a simple Google search, so here are a few of the designs...

I am stitching them on white aida as being something that can be washed when necessary, and using plain cotton floss and occasionally some of the Kreinik Metallics. All the various designs tend to be black and white with a few touches of color, such that when I do put the quilt top together, I plan to even up the various sizes of stitched piece with black and white calico and then use the bright colors for sashing between the mostly black and white patches. I've been collecting the sashing fabric for a while, and have been trying very hard not to collect any more cat charts, as I think I currently have enough set up to do a king size quilt,  only they are so funny! I'll put a list of the charts I am using in a later article, in case anyone is interested.

Meanwhile, I've almost finished the Chrysanthemum from the Oriental flowers series, so will have to decide which flower to do next. Actually, I think it will be another yellow one, as the metallic gold backstitch is trickier because it is harder to see.

So, Hawaii...

This is a pretty close in picture of a white and yellow plumeria tree. They smell wonderful, and the flowers look artificial to begin with, mostly because they are so perfectly formed. They sell rooting stubs at the airport in Honolulu, so on your way home from this blissful gardener's paradise, you can take a piece or two home with you. Um, I picked up two "stubs", little branches that you take home, stick in some potting soil mixed half and half with sand and wait. Well, I got one pink and one yellow, and both have leaves growing out. I'm so excited. I feel like a Mom all over again. I also got lilikoi and guava seeds, and a red ginger root thingie, all of which have sprouted and are starting to grow secondary leaves.

This, I learned, is called a Heliconia. It is formed a bit like its much more famous/well known relative, the Bird of Paradise flower

which I have pictured here. Incidentally, my fifteen year old daughter took most of these pictures. Partly because once she had the camera in her hot little hands it took dynamite to dislodge it. So I finally gave up and let her at it. She is pretty good at framing, so I think I came out ahead.

This is called a traveller's palm, because water gets trapped at the base of the leaves and so if you know about it you can get a little drink if necessary. It is also a heliconia. I didn't get a good picture of the one with the flowers on it because I couldn't get close enough to the tree. And those fronds are something like 10 or more feet long. I think they look like some of the Hawaiian headdresses the dancers wear so this might be where they got their inspiration.

This is a closeup of a poinciana, albeit not a very good one. If you want to see a good picture of what the flowers look like, try this address. Tradewinds Fruit is where I got a bunch of seeds that I am currently waiting rather impatiently to sprout. Since a lot of them can take several months!!! to sprout, this is a lesson in patience for me (although the seeds I bought in Hawaii sprouted in a couple of weeks). Still, I like gardening. It is kind of like gambling, only less chance of losing entirely.

THE Magpie

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Photos from Paradise--so this is how Adam and Eve felt--LOL

 I have no idea what this flowering bush is. I have a book, but have yet to locate this particular plant. The flower color is typical of the plants we saw in Hawaii, they seem to go for "the brighter, the better". I want to try to do my applique stuff with some of the photos I took.

This is a fish pond at the Ala Moana Mall. To say that it is big is an understatement. I think we did about a quarter of one floor before giving up in exhaustion. The sculpture is lovely, and a later blog will have it from ground level. I have to confess that I looked at it as a wonderful shape for a jungle gym.

These are called Rainbow Showers trees. The flowers are pendulous and are colored pink and yellow. I have since acquired some seeds of the parent trees of this hybrid, which I have been given to understand is a sterile hybrid. The parents are Golden Shower tree and Pink and White Shower tree, totally unsurprisingly. I found a website that sells seeds of both, and have them planted. Once they flower, I have plans. 

The trees shed the flower petals, hence, I expect, the name. Any place that gets freezing weather requires them to be indoor plants, so cleaning may get interesting once they flower, assuming I can keep them alive that long.

I am pretty sure that this is a very short Royal Poinciana. We saw some on the grounds of the Iolani Palace that were at least 40 feet high. The leaves are similar to the tree I grew up with that we called a Mimosa tree, but is also known as a Silk tree, with flowers composed of threadlike strands of pink and white. Royal Poinciana have deep red flowers.

I loved the richness of the colors of flowers in Hawaii. Reminds me of all the silks I have to embroider flowers with, so despite putting away the other project for now, I have lots of material for other things.

Last picture of all. Little Humuhumunukunukuapua'a, the little fish with the big name and he is right in the center of the picture. He is really cute, with his blue lip and gold and black striped body. We looked up the name, and it separates into three words in Hawaiian, humu-humu means triggerfish, nuku-nuku means nose, and apua'a means like a pig, so, triggerfish with a nose like a pig. I want to do some embroidery with this guy in it, I think he will translate well into embroidery.

THE Magpie

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Eastern Empress Rose, layout of base fabrics
Easter Empress Rose, with a jade button affixed to the center with magatama beads, very small drop beads. Also called fringe beads, they are about the size of size 8 seed beads. The difference is that the hole is off center. It makes them very nice for the bottom end of fringes, hence the secondary name.

The outside of the yellow petals is being satin stitched with multicolor quilting cotton in yellow, orange, pink and lavender. The outer petals are from the purple sari, this time cut from the metallic gold zari edging.

I have twisted drop beads in pale pink with the AB coating up the center of each yellow petal. I have since enclosed them in a sheath of peach silver lined seed beads. As soon as I correct/photoshop the pictures so they look like what I am working on--the pictures seemed to come out yellowed on the computer--I'll post them. I also have to learn how to work with the new camera, as the old one died sometime before I left for Hawaii and I only found out the day before.

THE Magpie