Posts Tagged ‘cross-stitch’


December 4, 2013

When I was a kid, my father took up photography. One of his favorite subjects was trees, especially dead trees. I found out later that his mother also loved trees, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I love trees. My tree fabric collection takes up an entire bin, and it is time to make some quilts.


While I have a collection of books and photos of trees, I noticed that the specimens in my neighborhood are pretty darn interesting. On Thanksgiving, I went out with my camera and came home with nearly fifty pictures from my six-block walk. My favorite shot is one you will never see in your basic tree identification pamphlet, because it is a grouping that nature never intended.


Lani Longshore palm tree


Yes, the quintessential California grove – evergreen, deciduous and palm growing together.


My tree quilt marathon will start early next year, once the holiday hoopla is cleared away. For the moment, I’m making up my own cross-stitch trees.


Lani Longshore tree cross-stitch


I leave you with a photo of fun with recycled trees – a playing card turkey made with a Skallops junior pack.


Lani Longshore playing card turkey



The Surface of Infinity, Wired

May 29, 2013

The most amazing thing happened to my Challenge Project – it told me it didn’t want beads. I’ve never had a project that refused beads before. Perhaps it was tired of being fussed over. First I had to wire its tail to make a Mobius strip.

Beading wire works well

Beading wire works well


I had considered satin stitching the edges in lieu of binding, but that didn’t seem enough when I finished the wiring, so I bound the quilt with a sheer ribbon.

Gauze ribbon is a great binding for small projects

Gauze ribbon is a great binding for small projects



The result was exactly what I wanted. You really can travel both sides of the loop without crossing the edges.

The finished project

The finished project



Since I was in the mood for handwork, I finished my cross-stitch kit. Well, I say finished but what I really mean is I adapted the pattern (because I can never quite count right) and kept adding embroidery and beads until it seemed like a good place to end.

Spider and bat button

Spider and bat button


I managed to get one more project off the pile, which was a pillow made from elephant fabric for my daughter.

Lani Longshore elephant pillow

It seems an appropriate comment on my life in the studio – never forgetting that my goal is to reduce the piles before they start creating their own gravity wells.



After the fun

May 8, 2013

Last week I was in New Mexico, enjoying the Studio Art Quilt Associates conference in Santa Fe, then helping my friends Ann Anastasio and Gale Oppenheim-Pietrzak with Art Quilt Santa Fe. Even being on our best behavior, we had more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

Ann, Gale and me

Ann, Gale and me

Coming home with my treasures was lovely, too. I had a blissfully uneventful flight, pleasant seat companions, and a few moments to dream of all the projects I would make after unpacking.

Oh, stop laughing.

Yes, it has been a week and I’m still scrambling with my to-do lists. My treasures wait patiently. Here are some of them:


This is the project I brought with me. It is a cross-stitch and bead kit that I bought last year in Colorado. I got most of the center cross-stitch done before I remembered that I always get confused by the little symbols and end of up losing my place. The border isn’t anything like the pattern but I can live with that. The spider is very cool, and that’s all that counts.

Lani Longshore gray painted cotton

This is one of the pieces I made at Art Quilt Santa Fe. It is fabric paint on muslin. I had in mind the Challenge theme of “the surface of infinity.” It seems to me infinity would be gray, like a cooling universe.

Lani Longshore red painted silk

This is the other piece I made – fabric paint on silk. This also has a space theme, as I wanted to portray a spiral galaxy. I’m not sure that’s how it will end up, because I’m seeing beading and Chinese embroidery now. If I ever get caught up, I’ll let you know which idea won out.

One, Two, Three, Many

October 3, 2012

Because the beginning of the month is my busiest week and I’m expecting company next week, I have been paralyzed by deadlines. My mind-body must think crouching in a corner and hoping everything will just go away is a survival skill, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why. I told myself I had to do one thing, just one thing, in the hopes that momentum would let me finish my to-do list.

It didn’t, but I did make some progress on a cross-stitch pattern. Once again, I learned that I can’t count. I managed to put the base stitches mostly in the right places. Since this is an abstract tree, I gave myself permission to put the rest of the stitches and beads where they tell me they want to go:


I can see the tree (if I squint)

Next I pawed through some blocks that were made from sorta-kinda-maybe the same fabrics. I was hoping to make a baby quilt from them.


Bunnies in blue and black

Reality gave me a dope-slap, and I accepted that they don’t go together. However, I found fabric to make two projects (possibly a baby quilt and a table runner – we’ll see), so I consider this exercise a success.

In the meantime, I’ve been processing fruit. The dried apples and pears are now residing in three separate containers:


Healthy snacks that we really do eat

If I am lucky, this latest round of crouching in corners is over so I can meet my deadlines and have the house cleaned before my mother arrives. That will still leave many projects, but I’m used to that.

There’s always more to do


Idle Hands No More

August 15, 2012

I love visiting quilt stores when I’m on vacation. Not only do I get to see what quilters in other parts of the country are doing, I browse through the entire store and get a chance to see what I might be overlooking in my store at home.

This time my eye fell on cross-stitch kits. The first one I saw came with all the materials necessary to make a key chain, which I happen to need because my current one has too many out-of-date keys (which is a kind way of saying keys to locks that are no longer functioning):


I finished the stitching in the time between breakfast and the morning activities at the family reunion, to do something useful while still being prepared to leap in the car. The kit came with everything except a bit of fabric to back the Aida cloth.

I also bought a beaded ornament kit:


and started it at the airport:

This kit came with two needles – one for embroidery, one for beading – but I didn’t quite reach the beading point before it was time to board the plane. If I had reached that point, I would have been able to try out this:


Tacky Bob is a little smaller than a CD case, has a foam rubber base, and a thin layer of tacky glue on the inside. The idea is to spread your beads out, nestle the case securely on whatever surface is available, and bead with confidence. I have no idea whether it really works, or if the glue will gum up the needle, or if the seed beads will have their itsy-bitsy holes clogged – and I don’t care. Any company that will name its product Tacky Bob and still expect to make a profit is OK by me.



Twilight of the Thread

April 4, 2012

I gave myself permission to get rid of thread this week. Some of my thread is very old, some of it was meant for techniques that I don’t use, and some of it has been waiting for a special project that will never come. The old stuff I threw away – it’s stressful enough during an election year without trying to keep smiling when my thread breaks. I boxed up some of the rest – I’ll give it one more chance, in case I use those techniques in the next six months, then it goes to a good home. The special thread that I won’t ever use is going to my friendship groups in hopes of finding someone who will appreciate it.

The thread that was left went into two small-ish cases that I can keep by my sewing machine:

It may not be the most elegant solution, but it really works for me. I used to keep thread in a couple of small chests on the shelves that would often get blocked in by other stuff. Also, the thread would hide in the drawers – yes, I know the drawers are small, but thread is sneaky – which is why I have six spools of red.

Next came the embroidery floss. I have been finishing up cross-stitch kits that I acquired so long ago I no longer remember whether I bought them, was given them, or found them on the doorstep. While I felt a sense of accomplishment when the last stitch was crossed, I also felt a sense of oppression when I saw how much floss was left. I decided I would make small things for my brother’s soon-to-arrive grandchildren:


Boat on a bib


Bird on a bib


Booties with gull and shrimp

With what was left from the leftover embroidery floss (and an extra skein of purple) I decided to experiment with a tote bag:

My first attempt at a purple and black rose didn’t quite work, but that’s okay. The embroidery floss served its purpose, even if it is now living in my trash can instead of on the tote bag. Using the free stuff instead of the good stuff let me experiment, which helps me learn and grow. Now I’ll keep going until I create the rose that I want – and I’ve cleaned out one more pile in the sewing room!

My Personal March Madness

March 14, 2012

March is a holiday-heavy month for me. Today is Pi Day, tomorrow is the Ides of March, Saturday is St. Patrick’s Day and next week is the vernal equinox. My synapses are tap-dancing with odd connections, ideas for special food, ideas for decorations and possible quilt titles (Leprechauns with Logarithms comes to mind).

While all this is going on, I’m still attempting to finish old projects that have languished in corners. I ran across a tote bag of cross stitch kits that I finished – which is good – but discovered that there are leftovers – which is not good. I also discovered that I still can’t count so the designs on my Aida cloth don’t look exactly like the designs on the kit’s cover, but that’s a story for another time.

In this story, the offending bits are the extra strands of floss the manufacturers include in case of stitcher error. While I made plenty of errors, I didn’t discover all of them until the very end, when I was in no mood to pick out the mistakes. So, I have a little purple, a little blue, some red, some orange – not enough to do anything big but enough to make me feel guilty for throwing it away.

Then I remembered the cross-stitch trim. For some unknown reason, I bought a yard each of gold- and silver-bound, 1″-wide trim suitable for cross-stitch. I decided to use up the extra floss with the silver-bound version. Here is the first experiment:

Next I tried a version of Greek Keys:

Once again, the simple act of getting from four spaces to five spaces eluded me, and the pattern went awry. More than once. After the third attempt, when I could see there was yet another mistake, I decided to turn a bug into a feature. I’m working on When Chenille is Not Enough, the sequel to Death By Chenille, with my friend Ann Anastasio (of Art Quilt Santa Fe fame). We decided we’re going to use the fragment of crazy quilt from the first book as a plot point in the second book, which means we have to come up with a real design for the quilt. The secret behind the quilt is that the woman who made it used designs from the writings of space aliens, so my wonky miscounted cross-stitch would fit right in. With that in mind, I made this:

and this:

I have a little more space on the silver trim, and the entire gold piece. If you have any wonderful, narrow cross-stitch patterns that I could easily mess up, please share or at least point me to a resource. The crazy quilt from space needs you!

By the way, Death By Chenille is available now as an e-book on, and When Chenille is Not Enough will be available soon (okay, soon-ish).

A Toy Tote for the Newest Santa Claus

December 14, 2011


My brother will be a grandfather next year. I’m not certain how he is dealing with it, but I’m thrilled. For the first time in years, I had an idea for a Christmas present for him. All grandchildren consider their grandfathers to be the next best thing to Santa Claus, so of course he needs his own bag to haul the toys, right?


I wanted the tote to be a little more masculine than my usual bag lady creation, so I showed it to my husband, who suggested a handle would be more appealing to my brother than a shoulder strap alone.

I also decided that my brother needed to have his own collection of spit-up towels for the baby. Trusting in the spirit of the season, I gave cross-stitch another chance. While I love embroidery, I have found that cross-stitch (like crotchet and knitting) taxes my basic math skills. I can’t count. I’m always getting lost in the pattern, or not finding the center no matter how hard I try. Still, I pulled out my patterns and tried a few small, simple things:

This is the first one I tried. I figured a one-color pattern would be a good warm-up, and that I could figure out how to make the letters even if I can’t count.

Next I tried a rocking horse:

Although I managed to follow the pattern, I didn’t center it properly on the towel. Oh, well, at least people will know a real live human made it because there’s a mistake in it.

Next I tried some shells:

These were more challenging than I expected, because the holes are so small. By the time I got around to the last bit of outline stitching, there wasn’t a lot of room for the needle and floss.

Last came a folk design that reminds me of Russian folk art:

My luck ran out with this one, and I did get lost in the pattern. However, after successfully navigating the other designs I decided folk art could accommodate my errors and fudged a few squares here and there. I know the baby won’t notice, and I suspect my brother won’t, either.