Tuesday, January 1, 2013

CQJP 2013 Block 1 Completed

Happy New Year!  I hope 2013 brings you all great health, amazing friendships and fantastic memories.

We have made a tradition of spending New Year's Eve with friends of ours.  Their boys are best of friends with our boys, so we always have a wonderful time.  Last night was no exception.
CQJP 2013 Block 1 Completed (Black lines are seam lines.)
I did manage to convince myself, once again, that I am crazy.  (Perhaps the name is part of what draws me to crazy quilting?)  Last night after our friends left, somewhere close to one in the morning, I decided to finish my CQJP block.  I did not want to fall behind on the first block, and it was so close to being done.  It took about two hours to finish it, photograph it, and email the picture for the CQJP 2013 blog.  And here I am, about six hours later, sharing the block on my own blog.  (I think I may actually take a nap today!)

As mentioned in my last post, the house was cross-stitched from the Stoney Creek Country Living Collection from a pattern entitled Cozy Winter Twilight.  (I was unable to find a leaflet available for purchase on the internet.  This house is only one small element of the pattern.)  It was the first addition to the block.

Next, I made the silver birch tree from directions in one of my favorite embroidery books, Embroidery for all Seasons by Diana Lampe and Jane Fisk.  (The book has directions for both right- and left-handed users.) I do wish I had made the tree a little larger, so it would have extended further into the block and into the sky.  However, as I began at the base and worked my way up, I could not bring myself to tear out so many hours of work to redo the tree.
Pathway and snowflake details.

My third addition was the cobblestone walkway.  Using a number 2 pencil, I lightly marked the pathway on the fabric.  (I only marked the two outside lines, not the stones themselves.)  Using DMC Perle 5 #4145 (a variegated brown), I back-stitched the outer edges of the path.  To add to the illusion that the bottom of the block is closer than the house, the path widens at the bottom.  Using additional back stitches, I made random cobblestone shapes.  These were also larger at the bottom of the block and smaller as they neared the house.  (As I did this, I wondered if the more experienced crazy quilters still worry that they might ruin their block with every embellishment they begin.  I know I do!)

After that, I added a border of trees.  I have mixed feelings about the results.  I showed them to my husband and told him I was not sure what I thought about them.  He has found elements of my work he really liked and a few he disliked; but, like me, he simply was not sure what he thought of the trees.  In the end, I loved the texture, so I decided to keep them.  This was my first time using Edmar's Boucle floss.  It is typically used for Brazilian embroidery.  I used #305, a variegated white and light green, to make slanted straight stitches for the tree tops.  The color of the floss allowed the trees to look "snowy."  Then, I used #029, a variegated green and brown floss, to make two straight stitches for the trunks.  In hindsight, I should have made the trunks first, but it turned out okay.

Needle painted mailbox.  (I need more practice!)

Next, I hoped to add a rabbit.  Someday, I plan to make one using a needle painting technique.  However, due to the amount of time I had, I decided to cross-stitch a bunny onto the block.  Unfortunately, the only pattern I had was too large to meet the scale of the block.  (I decided a bunny that was half as tall as the tree was simply too big to fit.)

I did end up making my first attempt at needle painting.  Using my own sketch and tips from Needle Painting Embroidery: Fresh Ideas for Beginners by Trish Burr, I added a mailbox to the scene.  It is far from perfect, but for my first attempt, I decided I was rather pleased with the addition.  I used blue DMC flosses for the mailbox.  The door is a bit lighter, using DMC 3752 and 932.  The main section used DMC 931 and 932.  For the post, I couched a strand of DMC perle 5 #801 floss down with a single strand of regular DMC #801.  To add to the thickness, I couched a second strand down in the same manner.  I may add a little stitch to the top of the post, as my needle went to the fabric a little to close to the first post, but I am undecided.  Up close, that may stand out more than the slightly narrowed post.

To help the post blend in, I added a small spray of snowflake flowers.  This pattern was also from Embroidery for all Seasons.

I still wanted to embellish the seams, but I had two challenges.  I did not want to detract from the landscape image.  And, I had interrupted most of the remaining seams.  The logical solution seemed like adding snowflakes.
Snowflake details.

The fabric for the sky was already glittery.  They are difficult to see, but I added a few Mill Hill Petite Glass Beads #42010 as tiny snowflakes in the distance.  They sparkle in the light.  Next, I added snowflakes to the seams and a few bare spots on the block.  I used a DMC rayon white floss for some and a DMC metallic white for others.  Some snowflakes are made with straight stitches, some with straight stitches and French knots and yet others include straight stitches and an assortment of white or clear glass beads.  In person, the light plays on the flosses and the beads.

A few of the snowflake shapes were inspired by (but not identical to) snowflakes I found in two other embroidery books I received for Christmas.  My mother-in-law gave me Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection: 400+ Easy Embroidery Designs by Aimee Ray.  And my husband gave me The Magic of Crazy Quilting: A Complete Resource for Embellished Quilting by J. Marsha Michler.  I found both books inspirational last night.

My final touch was the addition of a few straight stitches in DMC 502 to make tiny blades of grass at the bottom of the birch tree.

This morning, my husband commented that this block seemed simpler than my previous blocks.  True.  But, it fits the picturesque image I was hoping for, so I am happy with it.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  Best wishes for a Happy New Year!



Anonymous said...

Love it!

Renee said...

Thank you!

Lei said...

Wow! What a beautiful block. The layout is just perfect. It looks like a storybook scene. I can't wait to see what you do for next month's block. Happy New Year!

Renee said...

You are too sweet. Happy New Year!

Cathy said...

Came over from CQJP blog. Thanks for explaining the threads, etc. Your block is so cute.

Renee said...

Thank you! I stopped by your blog and I LOVE your manicure kits. What a fantastic gift idea.

Jill said...

Welcome to CQJP. This block is fabulous! I enjoyed reading about your process. You've given me some inspiration for a future block :)

Renee said...

Thank you! I just looked through your CQJP 2012 blocks on your blog. What a fantastic idea. It inspired me as well. :)

Wilma said...

Beautiful block Renee, love the house emboidery!

Renee said...

Thank you! I simply LOVE that Stoney Creek pattern. (Some day, I hope to finish the cross-stitch of it I began ages ago...) Thanks again!

Debbie S. said...

Wonderful block!

Renee said...

Thank you!

crazyQstitcher said...


Renee said...

Thank you! This is one of my favorites. Of course, I love Stoney Creek Cross Stitch patterns and the birch tree from Diana Lampe's book, Embroidery for All Seasons is one of my favorites.