Tuesday, January 28, 2014

TAST #95 Linked Chain Stitch

Linked Chain Stitch
I think I forgot to mention I am a bit commitment shy!  Every time I visit Sharon Boggon's site, pintangle.com, I think I should actually start participating with her Take a Stitch Tuesday (TAST) and Work in Progress (WIP) Wednesday.

After nearly two years of these visits, I finally took the plunge.  Last Tuesday, Sharron shared TAST stitches #95 Linked Chain Stitch, and #96 Beaded Link Chain Stitch.
Linked Chain Stitch
Using EdMar Glory Rayon Floss #083, a variegated pink, I embellished a seam on my February CQJP 2014 block.  I apologize, the close-ups are a bit blurry, but hopefully let you see a bit more detail!  (I have found EdMar flosses in two quilt shops that also sell supplies for Brazilian Embroidery.)

My links are too close together to really show the linked affect.  However, I love the way the links raise a bit adding texture to the block.

Today, I hope to pick up a size 26 tapestry needle so I can add the Beaded Linked Chain to one of my projects.

To see how others used these two stitches, follow the links left in the comments on this TAST post on Sharron's incredibly resourceful site!

I hope you enjoyed a sneak peek at my CQJP 2014 February block.  Now to see if I can find time to work with it a bit more!


Sunday, January 26, 2014

CQJP 2014 February Block Pieced

Oops!  I was so excited to start stitching that I forgot to take a picture of my February CQJP 2014 Block first.  Luckily, you can still see what the "before" picture looks like.

Now, I am off to try working on it a more!

If you are new to my blog and have left a comment on my Grow Your Blog Party 2014 post and I have not replied, I hope to soon.  My laptop died last year, so I am sharing our PC with my hubby and our boys.  As time allows, I am enjoying a visit to each person's blog(s) before replying to their comments.  I am enjoying each visit so much, I do not want to rush.  I look forward to "meeting" you all and appreciate your comments so much.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Grow Your Blog

I would like to thank Vicki at 2 Bags Full for hosting the Grow Your Blog Party.  I can only imagine the amount of time she puts in to this event...  Thank you, Vicki!  (I cannot wait to learn more about her Pink Scarf Project.)

I would also like to thank Elizabeth at Sew In Love for letting me know about this blog party.  (If you have visited her site, be forewarned, her stitching is gorgeous.)

As for me... My name is Renee Younger, I am 42 and live in Oregon.  I am married to a wonderful man and we have been blessed with two wonderful children.  One is nearly 17 and has sported the nickname "Monkey" nearly 16 of those years.  (Thankfully, he likes the nickname, as I use it as often as his birth name.)  My youngest just turned 14.  I have a nickname for him that I am not allowed to share (I fear it is too cutesy for his liking.)  When he was 5 or 6 he asked me to change his nickname to "Piggy" because he could oink so well.  I politely declined, explaining he would thank me when he was older.  (For the record, he has thanked me for that decision on more than one occasion.)  We decided his new nickname would be "Mutt" because he loves all types of dogs. I fear, I still use my personal nickname for him, except here on my blog.  (Poor kid.)  However, I used the boys' nicknames for the url for my blog; thus,  monkeyandmutt.blogspot.com.

Here is a recent picture of me.  I apologize because it is blurry.  I tend to be our family photographer, so I escape the camera lens most of the time. However, over Christmas, my hubby took a couple of pictures of me and this is the least blurry of the two. (We'll blame my camera...)

This blog began as a way for me to hold myself accountable for finishing up some of my projects.  I even listed weekly goals.  Perhaps I should take that habit back up ~ lol!  Now, it is mostly my way of sharing crazy quilting.

Things I love:
Cooking ~ This has been both a blessing and a curse this past year.  After several months of illness and lots of normal tests that left my doctor baffled, I was referred to a naturopath and discovered food was the likely culprit.  On the positive side, eliminating gluten, dairy, eggs, most grains, sugar, honey, beef, pork, chocolate, and ~gasp~ coffee from one's diet is definitely one way to shed some pounds.  The Internet is an amazing source for hunting down new recipes and learning about substitutions to tweak recipes so I can eat them.  (Although, I will admit, on the days this feels particularly challenging I can be found humming Monty Python's song, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."  I think I will adopt it as my theme song for the year ~ lol!)

Running ~ I love running.  Due to a foot injury, I have not been at it for about a year.  (I even completed the Warrior Dash in 2012 with my eldest son, sister-in-law and best friend from college.  They were great about waiting for me to catch up so we could go through each obstacle together.  My husband cheered us on and played photographer.)   It is my hope to get back to running this year.  (I really do miss it, but I also have a confession. To be totally honest, I mentally mock myself during at least the first mile of every run.  I wonder why I am doing it, as I do not really enjoy the process.  However, by the end of a run, I am exhilarated and cannot wait for the next one.  My husband says I am a dork, but I am his dork, so it is okay.)

Writing ~ I love writing.  I actually finished the 50,000 word goal in NaNoWriMo in November of 2012.  Of course, that novel needs almost a complete do-over, so I hope to get that done this year.  (Hmmm... I really should go back to weekly goal setting...)  My husband likes to point out that my gift (or curse?) of verbosity comes in handy here.  (Verbose? Me?  Well, let's face it,  this post is already turning into a novella...)

Crazy Quilting ~ Over the past couple of years, crazy quilting has become my true passion.  If I go a few weeks without working on a crazy quilt block, I get grumpy.  I long for it.  However, I suppose as far as addictions go, this is a healthy one to have.

I stumbled upon the Crazy Quilting International Blog and joined their Yahoo! Groups almost two years ago. I have learned so much from the wonderful community there. (If you want to risk spending a couple of hours admiring some amazing eye candy, click on the link to their blog above ~ or on either of the CQJP links below!)

Last year, I committed to the Crazy Quilt Journal Project 2013 (CQJP 2013.)  I would love to say I finished, but I allowed myself to get stuck on my May block. (Yep.  I definitely need to get back to weekly goals.)  I decided to make this project one of landscape themed crazy quilt blocks.  When they are finished, I plan to put them into a quilt.  My mother-in-law would like me to enter it into the Northwest Quilting Expo in Portland in September. I am not so sure about that, but I am thrilled she likes my work.

In spite of my failure to finish last year, I signed up for CQJP 2014 and just finished my first block. I plan to make purses out of each of the blocks this year.  I may try to sell them at a Christmas bazaar.  Maybe.  I have been encouraged to try selling some of my crazy quilted projects through Etsy.com.  I have a tendency to second-guess my work; so, we'll see...

Blogging ~ As nice as it is to share my crazy quilting with my husband and my two boys, it is fun to have a place to share the projects I am working on with others that share my love for the craft.  I share photos of some projects as I go.  Others, I complete before I post.  (I find this motivates me to finish them before starting on something new!)  This year, I joined Pinterest, and I have shared photos of a few projects I made using ideas found there (one is seen in the photo to the left.) I have also added a few photos of my crazy quilt projects on a Pinterest board.  However, I think I prefer sharing here.  Perhaps this is because my favorite part of blogging has been making some great on-line friends over the past couple of years.

Crazy Quilting Projects:
So far this year, I have completed the CQI Winter/Christmas blocks for our round robin rotation and my CQJP 2014 January block (pictured here.)

Items I plan to share on my blog in the near future include:
  1. A gift I am working on
  2. The purse I plan to make with my CQJP 2014 January block
  3. The 6 blocks I need to piece for the CQI Heart DYB Round Robin
  4. My CQJP 2014 February block (which is not yet pieced and will likely be a test run of the block idea I have in mind for the Heart DYB round robin)
  5. My block to embellish from the CQI Winter/Christmas DYB Round Robin
  6. The wall hanging I plan to create with all of my CQI Winter/Christmas blocks
  7. My CQJP 2013 May block (better late than never?!)
  8. A crazy quilted hexagon to participate in my first swap with the World Wide Crazy Quilters Yahoo! Group
Thank you so much for stopping by!  Please feel free to leave a comment and include the name of your blog so I can stop by and visit.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

CQJP 2014 January Block

Under the Sea themed January block for CQJP 2014 stitched and designed by Renee.

Sharon Boggon, of Pin Tangle, recently shared a question with the members of Crazy Quilting International.  She asked why we like crazy quilting.  There were so many responses I could relate to!  It was fun to see what draws other to this craft I have grown to love.

One of the things I love about crazy quilting is that I can stitch together a few scraps of fabric, like the simple 6 x 7-inch block below, and transform it with some floss, beads and charms into something completely new, as seen finished above.

This is my first block for the Crazy Quilt Journal Project 2014 (CQJP 2014.)

Hmm... I did not plan for the blocks to all slant up to the right.  I almost started over.

Instead, I opted to try to use the motion of the schools of fish I added to pull the eye back to the left a bit.  The anchor helps with this, too.

First, I made simple seam treatments.  I did not want them to compete with the rest of the embroidery.

I find myself drawn to encrusted crazy quilt blocks (where the majority of the block is embellished.)  I finally decided to try encrusting a block.  It does not come naturally to me, and my have been easier to accomplish on a block I could easily add lace and ribbons to; however, I was determined to give it a go.

Close-up of lower-left corner of Renee's January CQJP 2014 block.

After adding the seahorse I shared in my last post, I added seaweed and sea stars to the sandy ocean floor.
Close-up of lower-right corner of Renee's January CQJP 2014 block.

Next, I added an anchor (that I picked up at Michael's) and some jellies (using clear plastic glittery buttons I found in my stash.)

A very dear friend of mine spent years volunteering at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, in Newport, Oregon.  She taught me my "something new" this week.  Starfish are now called "sea stars" and jellyfish are now called "jellies" - as neither are actually fish.  (This same dear friend gave my sister and I our first sewing machine and introduced me to cross-stitching when I was a teenager.  I doubt I would have attempted crazy quilting without those earlier influences in my life.  Diane, if you are reading this, "Thank you so much!")
Close-up of anchor and jelly on Renee's January CQJP 2014 block.

After that, I used three different variegated flosses and combinations of chain stitches and straight stitches to create three schools of fish.
Close-up of the seahorse on Renee's January CQJP 2014 block.

To finish the block, I added a few beads to the sand and a few for bubbles in the water above the seahorse.  I also added a bit of black to the eye on the seahorse, to help it stand out a bit more.

I fear my block may look a little busy, but I think I succeeded with my goal to fill it with stitching!  (Out of curiosity, I tracked the amount of time I put into this project.  Nearly 27 of love have gone into this Under the Sea block so far.)

I plan to make a purse with each of my CQJP 2014 blocks.

A few people have asked if I have considered selling any of my CQ projects.  I had not, but 2013 brought along some challenges that decreased my income and increased my expenses; so, I am toying with the idea of making some items to sell on Etsy.  We'll see...

Thank you for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My CQI Winter/Christmas DYB RR Blocks are Home!

My blocks are home!  Well... they have actually arrived last Thursday.  The lighting in my house distorts the colors of the blocks.  I tried to take a picture on our patio table (once the fog let up enough to let the sun through), but it was so chilly I could not hold the camera still - I was shivering too much!  Late yesterday afternoon, I tried again and succeeded.  (Please forgive the shadows!  And remember, for a larger view, click on the photo.)

In July of 2013, I mailed the six blocks pictured above to Donna A.  She chose to embellish my "Joy" block and did such a lovely job!
Beautiful work by Donna A.
It is such a joyful block!  I just love the seams.  And, I adore trees (have you noticed?) and Donna gave me two!  (If I remember correctly, they were a few of her first trees. Bravo!) I love the North Star.  And the reindeer is just darling!
Donna's darling reindeer
I am simply thrilled Donna A. used some of the same snowy trim she used in the snowball she swapped with me (as you can see below.)  My blocks will be sewn together in one project and the snowballs in another, but the colors and this fun trim will certainly tie the two together!

The snowball Donna A. made for me in the CQI snowball swap.
In August, Donna mailed my blocks to Kathy B., and she chose to work on my "Love" block.  It turned out just gorgeous!
Beautiful work by Kathy B.
I love the way Kathy B. outlined the word "love" on this block.  Her seams are so pretty.  I love the variegated and metallic flosses she included.  The snowflake and flower on the bottom of the block are both stunning.  And I just love the flowers she added within the heart she stitched!
Close up of heart Kathy B. added.
In September, Kathy B. mailed my blocks on to Melody B.  Melody selected my "Family" block.  The scripture she added from Luke 2:11 certainly fits the word stenciled on the block!  "For unto you is born this day in the city of David..."

Melody's lovely work.
After seeing a picture of Melody's work, I admitted to the ladies in our round robin that I love button clusters, but I have not managed to work up the courage to add one.  So, I was thrilled to have one added to one of my blocks!  The seams are all so pretty, and I love the traditional addition of a spider web.
Scripture from Luke 2:11
In October, Melody mailed my blocks to Kathy S. and Kathy chose to work on the "Peace" block.
Beautiful work by Kathy S.
With her beautiful stitching, Kathy S. turned this into a "Prince of Peace" block.  As always, her seams are stunningly beautiful.  I also love the SRE (silk ribbon embroidery) blue poinsettias, the North Star and my second button cluster! I love the use of beads in the button holes.
Button Cluster by Kathy S.
(For the record, my husband laughed at me for being SO excited about the button clusters on my blocks.  It probably did not help that I was literally bouncing with delight sharing each lady's beautiful work with him!)

In November, Kathy S. mailed my blocks to Barbara W. and she chose to embellish the "Believe" block.  I am simply thrilled that the believe block includes Santa Claus!
Lovely work by Barbara W.
It is so fun to know the Santa trim and the wreath trim are both from the 1970's (just like me!)  And, I do not have my booklet with everyone's notes here with me, but I believe Barbara said the peppermint candy beads in the fun seam above "Merry Christmas" are from the 60's. Too fun!
Fun and lovely seams by Barbara W.
I love the seams in this block.  I have a hard time imagining ways to use bugle beads, so I was delighted by the Christmas tree seam made with them and topped with stars.

We took December off and mailed the blocks home this January.  Now, I get to decide what to do with the remaining "Dream" block.
For me to embellish.
I know I will include a bit of red (I am thinking of adding a cardinal I learned to stitch by studying Barbara W.'s work for Kathy S.) and a touch of green to compliment the green and red in the blocks embellished by Donna A. and Barbara W.  I may stitch around the word "Dream" like Kathy B. did with my "Love" block.  I also picture a tree and a snowman.  And, perhaps some words, as I love the ones Kathy S. and Melody B. included.

My next CQI round robin with be another DYB (do your block), where I make 6 blocks and mail them out.  Five will return embellished and I complete the last one.  The theme of the next one is "hearts" ~ which is fitting if you know me.  Hearts are my favorite shape.  We need 3 more people to sign up before we set a beginning date.

Before I complete my "Dream" block, or piece my heart blocks, I need to finish a secret (for now) project and my January CQJP 2014 block!  I must admit, I was VERY tempted to sign up for an Under the Sea themed round robin.  However, I have so many projects on my to do list, I did not dare add another commitment.  I compensated by making my first CQJP 2014 block an Under the Sea theme.

Here are a few sneak peeks!

I wanted to add a mermaid or a seahorse.  The idea of a mermaid intimidated me, but I did finally manage to sketch a seahorse!  I traced it onto tissue paper and stitched it onto the fabric.
Outline of seahorse from the sketch I drew.
I was very tempted to darken the eye and leave the seahorse as you see it above.  However, I decided to try filling it in with short and long stitches.  And, I opted to tell the perfectionist within me to take a hike, as she began pointing out all of the areas requiring improvement.  After all, this little fellow turned out better than I thought he would...
Seahorse filled with short and long stitches.
Now, I am off to try to finish the block.  I have found I really admired encrusted crazy quilt blocks, so I am doing my best to really fill this one up with stitches.  It is not something that comes naturally to me, so I find myself second-guessing a lot of the work.  But, I am determined to push myself out of my comfort zone.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

CQI Winter/Christmas DYB Round Robin: Completed Block for Donna A.

After embellishing
Before Embellishing
I finished Donna's block and I truly hope she likes it!

The bunnies cross-stitch patterns were in a Precious Moments Designs by Gloria & Pat Baby Book - Book PM 8.  (You can see them on the cover of this copy (CLICK HERE) available at Amazon.)  I thought they would be adorable additions and they fit perfectly into these patches, so... there they are!

The snowdrop flowers are from Embroidery for all Seasons by Diana Lampe.  (I use this book so much!  I am right-handed, but it includes left-handed instructions too.)  The tree is inspired by the Pencil Pine in Diana Lampe's book.  I changed the colors, omitted the nuts, and made a tall tree trunk.

And I give full credit for the swing to my husband.  I was wondering if I should add a bird or a nest to the branch when he asked what my plans were and told me he saw a swing there.  I think I pulled it off okay. (I hope!) And, it certainly adds more than the mere snowflakes I had planned for the creamy triangle of fabric.

I had just enough small white buttons to make one last button snowman.  I picture this snowman dancing or trying to catch snowflakes.
Top of block
Bottom of block
I had originally planned to stem or chain-stitch snow beneath the bunnies.  However, it just did not look right.  I added a row of French knots using white DMC pearl cotton #12.  It helped, but I thought it would look best fully filled in.  My husband agreed.  (Well, he agreed while I worked on the section beneath the white bunny.  As I began working under the gray bunnies he told me it did not look good there.  I cast him a baffled look.  He shrugged and told me he was just trying to save me some time.  LOL!)  I did not count how many French knots I made.  I just know there are 6 - 7 hours of them along that bottom section.  (Donna, if you read this, I truly hope having the French knots along the bottom seam does not cause any issues with assembling your blocks!  That was my one worry.  I tried to keep the Mill Hill petite glass beads at least a quarter inch from the seams.)

Donna's blocks ~ ready to go home!
Above is a picture of blocks embellished by: (top row left to right) Kathy B., Melody B., Kathy S., (bottom row left to right) Barbara W. and Renee Y.  The last block will be for Donna to embellish herself.  I cannot wait to see what she does with them!

This was such a fun block to work on!  And this Round Robin has been so much fun. The ladies all do such wonderful work!  My blocks should be home tomorrow so I can share more of the gorgeous work from this great group of ladies.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Grow Your Blog Party 2014

I would love to thank Elizabeth at Sew in Love for sharing information about the Grow Your Blog Party 2014.

The party is hosted by Vicki at 2 Bags Full.  CLICK HERE for more information.  The deadline to sign up to participate is January 15th.

Last year, I learned about this party the day of and I found a few wonderful blogs to follow. Some bloggers will be offering prizes.  (They are cooler than I am!)  It should be a fun event.

Wishing you all a fantastic week!


Friday, January 10, 2014

Happy New Year!

Although I am a little late, I would love to wish you all a Happy New Year.

In 2014, it is my hope to begin making my homemade Christmas gifts before the end of November - lol!

I just realized it has been AGES since my last post.  Here is a little bit of what I have been up to.  And, I would love to thank Sondra.  Although she may not know it, she introduced me to Pinterest - that wonderful site that inspired some of the projects I am about to share.

Gifts I made this year included:

Envelope Bags - Making the template was my biggest challenge with these. Unfortunately, I had two volumes of Christmas from the Heart: Home for the Holidays checked out of the library and I do not remember if this project was in Volume 12 or Volume 13.  Next time I am at the library, I will check and let you know in the comments section...

Envelope Bag - perfect for a journal and a pen.
Envelope Bag - perfect for a journal and a pen.
We have a card group that meets to play Pinochle.  This year for the gift exchange at the annual Christmas party, I made coasters and Santa towels.

Coasters - I would love to thank Kathy S. for giving me permission to use a photo of work I did on her block to make these coasters.  (Note: I found this idea on Pinterest.  I began making the coasters nearly a week in advance.  I would start MUCH earlier in the future.  I still do not know if they sealed well, as the sealant was not fully dry when we presented them.  If you follow the instructions at thefrugalgirls.com, I encourage you to read the comment section for potential problems and tips to avoid them.  And, you cannot see it in these photos, but there are clear streaks from the Mod Podge.  I liked the way that looked, my husband not-so-much.  However, he still thought these were a very cool gift.  No pun intended...)

Santa Towels - I saw these on Pinterest and LOVED them!  The tutorial may be found at crazylittleprojects.com.  I bought the towels at Fred Meyer and found everything else at Michaels.

Purses -
Or, maybe I saw the Santa Purse on Pinterest and stumbled upon the towel tutorial from there?  Either way, Michaels also had this pretty red fabric, so I decided to make the purse.  (By the way, after making 4 towels and the purse too, I still have enough ribbon, fur and red fabric to make one more Santa Tote Bag. I'll add pockets inside if I make another one. OH - and I learned to never line the strap with satiny fabric.  Slippery!)

Such a popular bag!  I shared the tutorial site with 3 people my first day out.
Remember my first crazy quilted purse?  I modified the pattern to fasten it with a button instead of velcro (my buttonhole is almost centered... I never claimed I was a great seamstress - lol!) and made an OSU purse for my sister.

So... that is what I have been up to for the past month or so.  Now I am off to work on Donna's block!

Did you make homemade gifts this year?  If so, leave me a comment; I would love to hear about them (or see them if you have them posted on a blog or Flickr account.)