Archive for the ‘Crafts’ Category

Heat: A Whine

September 6, 2017

We had ourselves a doozy of a heat wave last weekend. We were hosting visitors, and we knew that the forecast high at our house was 114 degrees. We decided to go into San Francisco, where the high was supposed to be 88. The forecasters were wrong. The all-time city record was broken as temperatures downtown reached 106.

We melted along with the city, then melted a little more when we arrived home and discovered the forecasters were all too accurate in their estimation of the heat in our area. Unfortunately, they were also accurate in the forecast for the rest of the weekend. Oh, yes, the heat abated degree by degree. On the day our company left it was a relatively mild 97.

I made us all badges to celebrate surviving the Great Heat Wave of 2017.

The sun’s flames felt a little too close

Luck and wisdom!

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Gifts of the Sun (sort of)

August 30, 2017

The Great American Eclipse didn’t go over my house. We had 75% coverage, which was enough for the sky to darken a little and beautiful crescent suns to appear on the patio under the leaf-covered pergola. I wanted to make an art quilt to commemorate this gift from the sun (and moon), and used the American Quilter’s Society free pattern “Luna” as a starting point. The pattern represents a lunar eclipse. I turned my version into a solar eclipse with embroidery and a well-placed button.

The eclipse in felt and thread

The base is a piece of hand-dyed wool felt that fiber artist Gail Sims made. She used leaves she collected from her yard. I liked the idea of showing the progress of the eclipse on the ground, which is the way I watched it.

The well-placed button

The next gifts come from a land of midnight sun. My friend and sister quilter Margaret Misegades was on a cruise to Norway. Knowing my fondness for antlered animals, she found something reindeer at each port of call.

This is adorable

I plan to use my little pitcher for cream once the temperature drops enough that I can drink hot tea again.

Such a grand addition to my fridge magnet collection

The reindeer magnet is remarkably strong as well as just so darn cute. Even my grocery coupons look cool underneath it.

These pencils are wonderful, and I still use pencils a lot, but to be honest I’m thinking about using them as part of a table display for Christmas with flowers – fresh or silk – and maybe one of my birds.

Luck and wisdom!

Thread Brain: A Story

August 23, 2017

I was in the midst of creating small projects with odd scraps of aida cloth and embroidery floss when I was inspired by an article about the human brain. There was a simple line drawing of the brain in the magazine. “Self,” I said, “that would go well as a cross-stitch.” I charted a design on graph paper, then did the stitching, which was a first for me. There was room left on the scrap of aida cloth, so I stitched in the words Thread Brain. There was still room, so I added another line: A Story.

Now I have a title and cover art, but what comes after that? Since I have yet to come up with a story in words, I decided to continue a story in thread. I have lots of leftover floss, so I made a multi-colored field and stitched an outline of a brain.

There is room on this scrap of aida cloth, so I’m making another image, this time of the two hemispheres of the brain.

I have no idea where this will lead, but I’m keeping my fingers occupied and using up the odd bits and pieces that clutter my sewing room. That’s good enough for now.

Luck and wisdom!

Quiet-time Activities

July 26, 2017

I’ve had a quiet week, not entirely by choice. I’m still fighting off some bug or other, and my creative energy level has suffered. Even reading was more of a chore than I wanted most days, so I pulled out my travel kits and did some cross-stitch. I’ve shown you this square:

Oriented to be Christmas ornaments

You may recall I couldn’t decide if this depicts Christmas ornaments or shooting stars. I decided to explore stars and came up with this:

A star chart, grid-style

The grid reminded me of plaid, so I made this:

Stars on point

After all that, I decided I liked the Christmas ornament idea, and made this:

Strings of lights

Keeping my hands busy helped me accept the fact that I need to rest until I’m entirely well. I can’t guarantee I won’t go stir-crazy if I don’t start feeling better soon, but for the moment I’m content to be creative with quiet-time activities.

Luck and wisdom!

Upgrades – Gift or Curse?

July 12, 2017

Some wretched app on my cell phone absolutely positively had to schedule an upgrade last week. My phone reacted poorly, and I lost all my photos, my Instagram connection, basically anything I actually use. Curses. The good news is once I accepted that I would be without a phone for a while I stopped thinking about it and began to appreciate the gift of time. The hours I  might have been on social media turned into a lovely period for handwork.

I finished the cross-stitch thistle that went off the rails a couple of weeks ago. Now that it is done, I’m actually quite pleased with it.

The next project-in-progress was inspired by some trees I saw on a family trip to Montana. The trunks were straight and tall. I started embroidering lines to represent them. I may or may not add the canopy after I’ve grown weary of laying down straight lines in varying widths. Someone asked what this piece was going to be, but I didn’t have an answer. For the moment, it is simply a bit of beauty to occupy my hands and entertain my eyes.

I still don’t know if upgrades are a gift or a curse. My current phone is toast, so until the new one arrives I’ll be living the unconnected life. At least I know that I can go back to the way life used to be if necessary.

Luck and wisdom!

Pink Elephants!

July 5, 2017

Pink elephants – need I say more? Alright, I will. I found a coloring book of animal designs. The elephant was fabulous. While considering what background to use, my eye fell on a piece of pink wool felt. I was determined to embroider myself a pink elephant. There was only one problem – transferring the pattern to the felt.

Who knew netting could become template material?

I decided to draw the elephant on some white netting, and transfer the pattern to the felt by going over the lines with a fine-tipped pen. Actually, I first thought of tracing the elephant on the netting and stitching through that on the felt, but the netting slipped around so much while inking the design that I abandoned that idea right away.

If you look carefully, you can see a fold of netting by the elephant’s ear

Choosing the thread posed its own problems. I have lots and lots of thread, floss, ribbon, whatever. In desperation, I chose a variegated thread for the outline and yellow for the tusks. I stitched those lines and let the piece sit for a couple of days until it told me what colors to use next.

This is the sort of project that could call itself finished more than once. I could have left off with the outline and tusks, but I did add some more stitching, then a piece of trim, then some beads. At the moment, this is where it stands.

Done until the elephant tells me it wants more stitching or beads

Luck and wisdom!

Cross-stitch For Those Who Can’t Count

June 28, 2017

I love cross-stitch, but I have the worst time following a pattern. Despite having a decent education, I can’t count with thread in my hands. I have the same problem with knitting and crochet, but since I have friends and family who knit and crochet beautifully I don’t mind not mastering those arts. Cross-stitch is different. I refuse to be beaten, even though I often am.

This pattern is beautiful, and as it happened I had floss in the appropriate colors. Don’t ask where it came from. One day I rummaged through my floss box and found several lengths of pink, green and brown tied together. Last week, I decided to give following a pattern another try.

Things started out well enough. I told myself this time would be different, this time I would get to the end of the project and every stitch would be in place.

Oh, how the universe laughed.

By the time I realized how far off the mark I had gone, I was too invested in the project to abandon it. That’s when I had an epiphany – the reason I love cross-stitch is that the pattern can be altered on the fly if one has the courage to seize the needle. So that’s what I did. I soldiered on, inserting colors where I wanted them, adding a leaf, adjusting the shape of the stalk. By the time I finished I almost regretted doing this project on a scrap of aida cloth with a nasty stain and a line of embroidery that refuses to reveal why it is there. Almost, but not entirely. I’ll cut around the design, maybe fill in the background with a cream or very pale green. It might end up on a card, in an art quilt, or on a tote bag. Wherever it goes, it will remind me that even for those who can’t count, cross-stitch can be fun.

Luck and wisdom!

Projects For Fidgety Fingers

February 8, 2017

Last month I attended an all-day writing workshop with some friends. I filled my tote bag with notebooks and pens. Then, for reasons I barely understand myself, I threw in a beading project.

So far, this is untitled with pearls

So far, this is untitled with pearls

My friends asked what the project was for. I said I wasn’t sure, but the truth is I knew my fingers would get fidgety. The workshop included a lot of time for discussion, and we all know that quilters/beaders/knitters/needleworkers can run both the mouth and the fingers at the same time. Sure enough, by the afternoon I was desperate for something to do with my hands when we weren’t actually writing.

When I got home, I noticed once again all the little boxes and bags I’ve collected over the years for portable projects. I opened a few and discovered that while I had indeed used all of them at one time or another, I had never cleaned out a single one.

A darning box for socks I no longer own

A darning box for socks I no longer own

Some of the boxes are big enough to hold several projects. This plastic stacking bin is a good example.

Lani Longshore small tote

I have no idea why I didn’t put another project in the bin. Heaven knows I have enough work in various stages of completion.

A cupcake container makes a wonderful sorting tool

A cupcake container makes a wonderful sorting tool

I’ve collected fabrics that I think would work well together so that when the need arises for a quick gift I can grab a bag and get started. This year, one of my goals will be to clean out the bring-along boxes, and have projects ready to pick and go when I suspect I’ll get a case of fidgety fingers.

Lani Longshore fabric collections

Luck and wisdom!

The Zipper Journey

January 4, 2017

I unearthed a fabric collection that called out for a project. I knew it would make a more useful tote bag than a quilt; however, I have a gazillion tote bags. I also have a gazillion patterns for little zippered bags, so I decided to try one of them even though I’m not great with zippers (they never turn out as pretty as I would like).

The fabric, and the dreaded zipper

The fabric, and the dreaded zipper

For this bag, I decided to try putting tabs on the ends of the zipper.

This tiny rectangle of shoe fabric makes a difference

This tiny rectangle of shoe fabric makes a difference

I also decided I would take the time to baste the little critter in place.

Lani Longshore basted zipper

Who knew taking the time to do things properly was worth it?

Done!

Done!

Somewhere, my junior high home ec teacher is saying, “I told you so.”

Luck and wisdom!

Don’t Mess With Halloween

November 2, 2016

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but this year I decided to scale back and not carve a pumpkin. That was my first mistake. My second mistake was second-guessing that decision. I went to the grocery Monday morning, pumpkins were on sale, and I took this as a sign that I should carve a pumpkin after all. My third mistake was picking the wrong knife.

Lani Longshore bandaged thumb

Yes, that is my thumb with the bandage covering a proper jab. My husband helped me clean up, then finished the carving.

Lani Longshore carved pumpkin

My husband was really sweet about the whole thing, especially since he is always warning me off knives. I come from a long line of women who can’t cut straight. My grandmother made fabulous bread, but her slices looked more like a sandy beach after a particularly vigorous wave washed over it – all ripples.

My other decorations were far less hazardous to make. I found some delightful orange pipe cleaners, and made a bow-tie for my monster-head scythe.

Lani Longshore Halloween decorations

I also found some bats on clips. Twist a few pipe cleaners together, attach the bats, and you’ve got a door hanger.

Lani Longshore bats

While we may have a pumpkin next year, I can guarantee you I won’t be carving it.

Luck and wisdom!