Posts Tagged ‘patterns’

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!

Ready For A Brand New Bag

August 10, 2016

We just returned from visiting family (three states, two flights, one road trip), and while it was a wonderful trip I always return with a subtle sense of dissatisfaction. This isn’t a bad thing, because when I see what other people do with their houses and gardens I often realize my house or garden could look much cuter with a few simple changes. This year, my sense of dissatisfaction is centered on my handbag. It is getting on in years, so I knew I would have to replace it sooner rather than later. My travel bag has all these zippered pockets that are delightful and efficient, but I haven’t seen anything for at-home use that seems right. “Self,” I said, “you might just have to make your own handbag.”

The clutter doesn't stop in the sewing room

The clutter doesn’t stop in the sewing room

I bought a couple of patterns that sorta kinda maybe have the features I want. With a little mixing and matching, perhaps I could come up with an plan. If any of you know of the perfect pattern, please pass on the information!

My starting point

My starting point

Once I find (or adapt) a pattern, I’ll have to decide on materials. I once thought of making a handbag from the collection of fabric pictured below, but now I’m not so sure. Perhaps the silkies would be better as a lining than an outer shell. Dang, I might have to force myself to go fabric shopping.

These patient packets may finally have their turn to shine

These patient packets may finally have their turn to shine

Luck and wisdom!

Where Random Things Go To Live

September 11, 2013

That’s how my daughter described my decorating style. It does me no good to deny it, so instead I’m turning that bug into a feature. I will revel in my ability to see patterns in otherwise unconnected items. Here is the item that started the conversation:


Celtic knots in brass

Celtic knots in brass


I decided to buy this brass wall hanging rather than the first one that caught my eye, which was a castle with beads on its turret spires. This piece has beads –


Connecting beads

Connecting beads


– but the casual visitor’s eye will sweep over it to the next delightful piece in the room. Or so I tell myself. Some of the next delightful pieces are from a long-expired balloon bouquet –


Stars on the piano

Stars on the piano


– and a visit to a fossil museum gift shop –


My very own fossil

My very own fossil


– so perhaps I am overestimating the ability of the casual visitor to see the patterns I see.


My studio might be a better place to start. At least I have two kinds of ships, and two is a beginning of a pattern. Here is a ship for my space series:


Space ships for the Christmas tree

Space ships for the Christmas tree


This ship might also appear in my space series, especially the quilts I make to illustrate my novel-in-progress about space Vikings.


More embellishments for quilts

Another embellishment for a quilt


On the other hand, perhaps I should accept that there is a reason I’m not an interior designer.


Habits and Patterns

January 16, 2013

You might have noticed that I collect things. I tell myself they are useful things, but we know that isn’t entirely true. There is one collection that should resonate with all of you, regardless of your craft of choice – the “someday I’ll do this” file.

idea collection

This is one of the piles of patterns, sketches, notes and scribbles for future quilts. Some of them are ideas for projects I can use in my prison quilting class. Some of them have been sitting in this pile – or one of the many other piles scattered around the sewing room – for a long, long time.

The good news is my class makes tops for community quilts, and they have asked for 48″ x 66″-72″ quilts. Now that I have a standard size, I’ve given myself permission to get rid of patterns that don’t fit (especially if I ripped the pattern from a magazine in the ’90s and haven’t touched it since). The bad news is old habits die hard and some of those patterns-notes-random scribblings are going into my personal “someday I’ll do this” file.

Then there’s the new project that came about – writing up my own patterns for blocks that are especially interesting in scraps and/or easy to cut. I know the best method for doing that would be to get software already designed to do just this, but my computer runs on Linux. I’ve seen software curl up its toes and dash screaming from the room when I’ve tried to install it on my computer. So, I am left to do my own designs with my drawing program, which is not as much fun as it sounds.

Then I made a mistake and had a revelation. I hit the wrong button on my camera and discovered it can do party tricks. In particular, it can turn a photo into a drawing.

This is the block in regular mode

This is the block in regular mode

- and this is the block in drawing mode

– and this is the block in drawing mode

“Self,” I said, “why don’t you just take a picture of the block you want and turn it into a drawing. Better yet, take a picture of the drawings you used in old patterns that you’ve already written on graph paper and use them.”

So I did:

Bordered 4-Patch - great in scraps

Bordered 4-Patch – great in scraps

An easy heart - also great in scraps

An easy heart – also great in scraps

Stone Mason's puzzle - good for using up strips

Stone Mason’s puzzle – good for using up strips

Now all I have to do is re-size and input the directions for these patterns – after I double-check the math – but that’s a project for another day.


November 9, 2011

This is my week for going into terra incognita, if not terra obscura. I started on the prototype for the stadium bag for my sister-in-law.


Bag without hood

She wants something roomy and waterproof. We decided a cross between a sleeping bag and a poncho would work. We also decided it would be a good idea to do a muslin before we cut into the real stuff. I have other uses for my muslin, so I used some orphaned double-knit polyester instead.


Bag with hood

Aside from coming up with a design that so far doesn’t exist in nature or the camping stores, I’m also doing this long-distance. That’s why the pictures are of me inside the bag, not Cynthia. That also means I have to attach notes as to what I want her to do, such as:


Imagine zipper here

And so I begin another adventure. At least the last of the apples are processed.