Author Archives: Melanie

Taking a break

My life has been a whirlwind recently and I’m finally forced to shut down. We got back from Florida last week and I’ve been on catch up mode for work and all my self-imposed tasks. In addition, I’ve been preparing for upcoming commitments. My mental and emotional state finally said enough with this and I’ve decided to back off those things that won’t matter too much. Like a guild workshop I’m supposed to attend today.

A Pomegranate!

I can’t back off my garden! I’ve been spending evenings watering, picking, watching and it’s given me such solace over these hectic times of mine. There’s so much to do right now for it. As our temperatures rise I won’t be able to do much but there’s always planning for fall.

Above is my first pomegranate baby. One of my mom’s friends gave me this. From what I understand, she had this in a pot for 10 years and it hadn’t given fruit. She finally decided to let it go. I got it earlier this year and transplanted it to this planter. And now I have a baby fruit! I think it needed space to stretch its roots.

Strawberries!

I’m using strawberries as my ground cover now and it’s a contest between me, pillbugs and whatever bugs right now. I’m able to pick 1-3 strawberries a day! I have a strawberry tower that I started last year and it’s doing fine. The patch I started earlier this year and I’ve slowly added strawberries to increase it’s space. It’s really slow because I’m busy with other stuff and can only do so much at a time. I’m hoping as it gets established I’ll be able to supply myself with as much strawberries I want! I’ll get a bunch of bare roots in the fall and plant more for next year.

I’ve also signed up for a permaculture course in the fall and I’m excited about that. There is stuff on YouTube but not a lot of urban permaculture which is what I want to focus on. I’ve also been taking classes at Theodore Payne which focuses on CA Natives so I’d like to incorporate that as well. I can see my life getting busier once that starts and my crafting time is what will suffer. Unfortunately, I still need to work and pay the bills. So I can’t spend less time on that front.

Stay crafty!

Melanie

Southwest Florida

We went to visit one of my brother-in-laws in Naples, FL. Here are some pictures we took while exploring.

Barefoot Beach
Gopher Tortoise
Marco Island

This week has been great visiting and having some time off. I realize that I’ve filled my life again with a lot of commitments and I have to learn to say no again.

Glam Clam – Finished!

ignore the toes

This quilt is finally finished. It’s been under several machines as for some reason I had it in my head to use different quilting motifs on each clam. That got old real fast and after several started repeating them.

I took a ruler work class at a local sewing machine shop in town and started quilting with the techniques I learned in that class. I also took a Mel Beach class and did some quilting on my domestic with some painters tape and creative placement. But in the end, it was taking way too long that I finally threw in the towel and repeated a few motifs in order to get this done.

close up of the backing fabric

I love choosing interesting backs with interesting designs. I couldn’t cut into this fabric for piecing unless I did some fussy cutting.

the label

I used to do my labels on my embroidery machine and if I still did that, this quilt would still be waiting for a label and wouldn’t be done done done. I skip that and simply use fabric pens to write up my label. It’s simple and not as pretty as what I could do on the embroidery machine but I’m okay with it. I love the added detail of the crosses I hand embroidered.

Hugs to you all,

Melanie

Back from the framers

I heard from my framer yesterday that my pieces were done so I ran over and picked them up.

Here is Mama’s Bukid – finished in March, 2020 right at the start of Covid. Thank goodness for this blog because if I relied on memory I would have thought I finished this a long time ago. And while it has been 2 years and for some that is a long time ago, my thoughts were more like 2018 not 2020. Anyway, I gave this to my mom that fall for her birthday unframed. My thought was that she would have it framed. But I know my mom would cheap out on a frame so I took it back in 2021 with the intention of framing it. I didn’t get to that task until last month. I chose a really good quality plexiglass because with real glass it would be really heavy. We didn’t want it to be heavy. And by really good, it is supposed to prevent 80% of UV rays from getting to the piece. There is museum quality glass (plexi?) that would prevent 100% but that would cause the price to skyrocket and while I think my piece is awesome, I don’t think it’s that awesome. 🙂

Mama’s Bukid – Framed

I’m sorry for the picture quality but the reflection of the light cannot be helped at this point. You’ll find better pictures on it’s personal page when it was not framed. Anyway, this is a finish and for that I’m thrilled. Can I count it as a finish for 2022 even though I counted it in 2020 as well? I will because I’m the boss of my blog. 🙂

I do plan to put a label on the back. While I’ve been very good at putting labels on my quilts, I’ve not labeled any of my cross stitch pieces and I’m planning to be better on that end going forward.

Inherited Piece – Save the stitches 2022

The picture really is bad here and I apologize. I was gifted on 2 occasions a number of UFOs from recently deceased crafters needlepoint projects. This one, while not complete, was practically finished. And without the pattern I could not do more unless I did more research. And with my own projects who has the time for that? I decided it was good enough and had it framed. I plan to give this to my mom who is bemoaning all her empty wall spaces that I am happy to fill. I will also put a label on the back with the stitcher’s name.

Happy stitching!

Melanie

My garden update

I always loved gardening but prior to 2020 we rented and moved often -every 1-4 years. So after several attempts early on I gave up on gardening. But since moving into our forever home I felt confident to try again. While I love the tomatoes and seasonal veggies, I want to have long term, semi permanent plants. So over the last year and a half I planted fruit trees and berries. Not pictured are some CA natives that I’m trying to add into the mix. The backyard will house my edible plants while the front yard will have non edibles but also hopefully pollinator attracting plants.

blueberries ready to be planted. These are not all mine. I happened to be a my fave local nursery – Sego in NoHo – and they had a lot of varieties. So I bought some for friends as well. Only 2 pictured will stay with me.
red roger grapes (going off memory so might be wrong)
Oregon Grapes – ca native (i believe despite the name)
blue elderberry- Ca Native
Garlic
My strawberry tower! I just added 6 new plants to replace dead ones that didn’t make it over winter.
Strawberries in grow bags from last year. These are doing really well but I want to transplant them to my strawberry patch.
strawberry patch. This is located below my fruit tree containers and I want them to take over the yard. Or at least that side of it.
more strawberries!
new blackberry plant… it’s not dead, it was a bare root.
I have 4 fruit trees planted in these containers. The one at the end is a mango tree, then a calamansi tree, not pictured is atis tree (which is not English and I have no idea what the English word is. I googled and it is Sugar Apple) and a pomegranate.
Here’s the pomegranate and a sneak at the atis on the left.

Behind each fruit tree are 30 gallon grow bags with blueberries. 3 are a year old while the 4th is new this year. In SoCal we have to be careful and get varieties that have low chill hours so that we can have a successful harvest. Mine are still new but I have high hopes!

Don’t mind the mess but these are pineapples and I need to transplant them into bigger pots. Last summer the family and I got into buying a pineapple every week for several weeks. After eating them we planted the tops. This picture shows 4. We have one more elsewhere. We started with 6 so only lost 1 in all. I hope we can get pineapples next year and this summer we will again buy, eat, and plant!
Here’s the sad state of my veggie garden right now and Tomatomania starts this weekend. I will be getting double the tomato plants from last year as well as jalapeño, cucumbers and zucchini’s.

Happy gardening.

Melanie

Dancing with the Stars! Finally finished.

Dancing with the Stars – 02/2022
Dancing with the Stars – Back
Label

I’d never sent a quilt to be long armed before and I’m thrilled with the result and experience. I started this quilt at a class with Linda Ballard at PIQF in 2013. Linda is speaking at my guild this month and I wanted this to be done in time so I gave it to one of our local long armers. It was fabulous. I won’t be doing it often but now that I’ve done it I feel comfortable doing it again.

Needlepoint: East Meets West Kimono

Pattern: East Meets West Kimono ~ Designer: Margaret Bendig

This is my first needlepoint project. I attended my first needlepoint workshop Halloween weekend 2021 in Las Vegas with Margaret Bendig. I was told she would be an excellent teacher for my first project ever. And she was wonderful. She explained everything and came around checking on all of us students and made sure me and the other newbie in the class were understanding what we were supposed to be doing. The problem, I found, (and it’s a totally me issue), that my lines above are off. Reading needlepoint is a little different than reading cross stitch. It’s hard to explain. I’ll have to try to one day but suffice it to say I read the pattern wrong and my lines are all off above. So, I’m working my way from left to right to make sure those from left to right are correct. Then I’ll work my way down. Each of those blocks correspond to a number on the pattern and the blocks from left to right do not go in numerical order. So I have to figure out what number it is and then go to the appropriate page in the pattern (there’s over 30 pages) to determine what I’m doing. So far, I’ve been working on things that we learned in class.

In class, the instructor can’t go through everything. She started us off, and then went over the blocks that were different than “normal” stuff. So Margaret went over techniques that may be new for the average class attendee. Since it was all new, my brain exploded and I just kept going on what I knew. Also my lines were off and I didn’t want to jump to a different block and potentially put the stitches in the wrong place. During class I kept going with what I was doing. I tried to pay attention but I’m sure I didn’t catch nearly enough to get me started. Margaret was so nice and friendly. She told me to get in touch with her if I have any questions. Which really pleases me since I am positive I will need help.

~Happy needlepoint!

~Stay Safe.

~Melanie

Needlepoint: Marasol, a new craft, a new WIP

I went to a cross stitch retreat last fall and was invited to a workshop with Needlepoint designer and instructor Margaret Bendig.

Here’s what I’ve done.

Marasol – block one – finished
Marasol – Block 2 – in progress

I’m just getting into needlepoint and this is my 2nd project. I’ll show the other one on a different post. That one is not done either. I’m loving how this is coming out and I’m learning a lot. As with all the crafts I enjoy doing, there just isn’t enough time. So I just do what I can every day.

I’m still quilting but I just forget to post them. And my weekly lists and to do’s and monthly goals – gone to the wayside. I’m just doing what’s next on each project when I get to them.

~hugs to you my quilty friends.

~stay safe

Melanie

2021 finished projects

I know it’s already February but here is a snapshot of all my finishes from 2021.

Jan Krentz – Broken Diamond Star – 04/2021
Dancing with the Stars – 7/17/2021
Scrappy Stars Around the Corner – finished top! 8/7/2021
Baby quilt for baby Wolffe – 10/2021
May 2021

Crazy Cushion – April 2021
ByAnnie Piecekeepers project Bag Back 3/7/2021
Staycation Finally – a finish! 2/25/2021
I am pretty sure this top is done also. Kimberly Einmo’s mystery quilt from Craftsy circa 2014- or so… I needed to take a picture but haven’t done so yet.

It’s so easy for me to forget about my finishes. I remember all my WIPS and projects that I work on and I’m sad that about that. But when I see all my finishes I am happy with what I was able to accomplish.

I have plenty of tops to quilt through and I hope to get all of them quilted in 2022. 🙂

Hugs

Melanie

Road to CA 2022

 

My favorite show is back. It was a much smaller turnout than previous years and I’m not sure the vendors are too pleased. But as a quilter and long time attendee I was thrilled to get back. 

I took 3 classes Thursday – Friday and spent Saturday romping through with a couple of friends. 

Thursday – I couldn’t take the full day off so I left late around 2’ish. Checked in to my hotel and then headed to the show. I was able to walk the vendor section with a friend and make mental note of things I liked and things I would potentially buy.  I had an evening class with Catherine Redford on “Intro to Folk Art Embroidery”. We learned did 5 basic stitches. I knew most of them but it was nice for a refresher. The new to me stitches were the wrapped stitches. They were fun. 

On Friday, I took Annie Smith’s Aurifil Thread Matters Class. It sounds like it would be a sales pitch for Aurifil. As a tried and true Aurifan, I didn’t see it as such. This was a chance to try all the types of thread that Aurifil has to offer.  We were provided a Bernina 570 to use and basically stitched sample stitches onto fabric using the different weights, needles, and decorative stitches on the machine. We put all of our samples into a binder to keep for reference. I think everyone should do this whether you like Aurifil, Superior Threads, Wonderfil, etc. First, different weights use different needles and different weights in the bobbin. And each combination produce different results. Everyone has their own preference and doing this allows me to choose which combination I want to use to produce the result I want to produce on any given project.  I’ve always used 50w on top, 50w on the bottom and mostly use a 70/10 needle, sometimes 80/12 and sometimes 90/14.  For me, this is fine for piecing. The needles I used was whatever was in my machine. I generally changed it to 90/14 because I have a TON of them. A lifetimes worth really. But those are bigger needles meant for thicker thread like a 12w or 28w. I really loved playing with the 12w lana (wool) and I may have to invest in all the colors Aurifil offers in this weight. 

Friday evening, I ended it with Catherine Redford’s more intermediate class, “Dimensions of Folk Art Embroidery.” We learned about 6 more stitches that were a bit more complicated. You had to have known how to do a chain stitch and it surprised me that there were a few people who signed up who didn’t know how to do a chain stitch and were beginners.  I can only guess they didn’t read the class description. 

I enjoyed myself immensely at all three classes. I’m getting really hooked on hand embroidery and am getting an itch to finally start a crazy quilt. A couple of ladies in the friday night class told me to start now. It’s a long term project. That doesn’t surprise me. It seems all of my projects end up being long term. The hand work more so than any other. 

If you’ve ever been to Road, it generally took up 3 main areas. The main room, with some quilts for show and mostly vendors. The second ballroom, with most of the quilts for show and no vendors (all though I believe this just started in 2020 or 2019, I can’t remember).  And the third place – the tent, with food, some tables and more vendors.  This year, we didn’t have the tent with the extra options for food. Instead, all the vendors were in the main room. And it was not cramped. There were still open booths where chairs were placed allowing attendees to sit and rest.  So there weren’t as many vendors. There was only one booth selling a large selection of Aurifil and no one was selling cones. Where before, there would be 3+ vendors selling the same stuff and there was only one booth with items. For example, I was looking for a stripology for a friend. Only one booth (Quilt in a Day) had it. Really, they were the only booth with Creative Grid rulers. There were 2+ other booths with rulers but different kinds (ie. Quilter’s Select, etc.). So not as many options. I hope next year, our world is in a place where more vendors and attendees can come out. 

 

 

 

Best of Show: Harlequinade – Maker: Rebecca Prior, Quilter: Jackie Brown

Merry Christmas II – Maker/Quilter – Aki Sakai

This quilt is exceptional. It’s hard to see al the mini details but it’s hand done and quilted. Outstanding!

Ewe Two Crazy Love Birds – Maker/Quilter: Janet Stone.
Hometown of Kirara- fishing village – Maker/Quilter: Ayako Kawakami
Bloomers – Maker/Quilter: Penny Morris

This crazy quilt is my favorite. I want to make one also with embroidery stitches all over it.

Happy quilting my friends.

Melanie