Crochet Mandalas

I read a post last week about mandalas by a blogger friend that got me thinking (check out this Hooked! post for an amazing mandala by Amy Le Pelley…she made a clock out of a mandala y’all – genius!!). She also talks about doing a mandala in off-white colors for a baby gift – which also strikes me as genius (patent pending for Amy!!).

She encouraged me to post some pictures of mandalas I have sewn, so I staged a photo shoot today (after several evenings of: “Damn, it’s too dark to take good pictures now. Maybe tomorrow morning…” followed by wash/rinse/repeat until today – breaking the cycle and following the light!).

These are all sewn following this pattern by ZootyOwl (Thank you ZootyOwl!) and using Finca Perle No. 8.

My 1st mandala - mounted on a hoop
My 1st mandala – mounted on a hoop (this involved math and I don’t want to talk about it. Also: I look at this while I brush my teeth every night – highly recommended to get through that 2 minute brush the dentist thinks we’re doing each night.)

Forest Green

My 2nd color scheme,  based on the colors of my walls (e.g. I should crochet one for each room!)
My 2nd color scheme, based on the colors of my walls (e.g. I should crochet one for each room!)

Poor things aren’t blocked yet – they’re stuck in WIP mode and I stretched them across a stepping stone for a photo shoot.

I used to have a room in blue...so I started this color path (still on the hook)
I used to have a room in blue…so I started this color path (still on the hook)…

And now for something completely different…

Uhm...I tried a new color path and suffered the consequences. I still don't know what to do with this...
Uhm…I tried a new color path and suffered the consequences. I still don’t know what to do with this (it might look worse in person. Most people who look at it in person say, “Oh…hmm…” )…apparently it matters what colors one uses, and in what order…I continue to learn this lesson.

 

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Light…at the End of the Tunnel?

I’m working feverishly toward the coveted time off and I’m beginning to see that the light is actually at the beginning of the tunnel…and I’m almost there….

I’m still rocking the cross-stitch and planning for the art retreat, and in the meantime…here’s some light I found while looking up…

Looking up
Light at the beginning of the tunnel

Sending light and love to all reading this…(you might need to look up for the next step).

 

Cross Stitch Progress: We Have a Ducky!

There’s only a week to go until my art retreat, which coincides with my deadline for the cross stitch project as well as a lot of work-at-work to get ready for being away. So I’m already tired and ready for some shut eye but got some good progress in this weekend on the cross stitch.

Yay for outlining!
Yay for outlining!

I’m regretting my choice to bust my thread stash for this because I didn’t have enough of some key colors, which slowed things down. Plus I didn’t always guess right (proven by a run to the thread store for extras – I forced myself to compare each thread color to see how far off I was). There are only a handful of colors that don’t match the pattern palette, but I think my choices will work out. We’ll spend just one sentence talking about how much stitching and unstitching I did on Sunday. (That was it.) I learned not to work too far ahead with a color just because it’s on the needle. I can only count so far on blank aida cloth apparently.

But a fuzzy ducky head feels like progress indeed. Maybe I’ll get up early and do tonight’s stitching in the morning (…prolly not…).

Orange Flowers in My Garden

These bulbs came with my house (which I first rented then purchased…twice…no need to dwell on such details).

A bulb-based flower that came with my house
A bulb-based flower that came with my house

I have found and lost the name of this bulb/flower (I should have saved that final search link!). If you know the name, please share. In the past I’ve found this flower in a few yards in my neighborhood, and most surprisingly on the grounds of a horse ranch in nearby Bonsall, CA (Rawhide Ranch rocks it, especially for Girl Scout events!). That’s actually where I learned the name of the flower, and subsequently forgot these many years later.

This flower bloomed first on this property when I landed here in 2000, and I like to think it inspired me to transport and lay down all the huge rocks that line my garden beds today (maybe I’ll share another post about all the excavated “dinosaur eggs” that line my garden paths). No matter what garden and house renovations we complete, these persevere…and I love their alien exquisiteness.

20160219_085321[1]

20160219_085245[1]
Aloe flowers in the background
garden view
broader garden view
The garden "at large" - I call the business at the right "Cactopolis."
The side garden “at large” – I call the shining business at the right “Cactopolis.” (There are other spiny characters at the base of that metropolis…pictures to follow…far left is my pineapple plant.)

Sending sunshine from So-Cal and looking forward to hearing about your gardens and your sewing projects!

Petit Point – Needlework from long ago

Today I attended a Cyber Security talk with my local ISACA chapter (blah blah blah what I do during the day blah blah blah), but there’s an amazing set of needlework art on the walls of the college where we meet. And that’s what we’re going to talk about here.

Petit Point: Bird detail 1
Petit Point: Bird detail 1

The plaque describing where these come from was gold and shiny and defied all pictures. And my brain was filled with cyber security details related to  my work, so I didn’t even write down the details or take a rubbing (now that’s a good idea for the next meeting! the plaque is engraved!). I promise I will write this down at my next monthly meeting – specific credit is due!

The mixture of small and large needlework stitches fascinates me on these works (and they’re not even behind glass y’all! I didn’t touch the stitches – I swear – tho I wanted to…). So here’s the best visual I’ve found so far of how this is created: Petit Point . I believe these items are from the early 1900’s.

Mastery to the Nth degree, in my book. Reality: This artist started with long blank canvases and stitched complex three-dimensional patterns on them with different threads in different material:stitch parameters. I’m just beginning to imagine how to create this kind of diversity in my threading.

A close-up of another bird
A close-up of another bird

I love being a part of this long history of tapestry, embroidery, needlework and crochet. We are making pieces of love that last the ages (on this topic: Please please check out what Amy Meissner  is doing with historic handcrafted and found pieces. She is a huge inspiration for me, and I love to see how she is incorporating sewn pieces from our cultural past into a new future. I also love how she uses found items in her art. Very thought-provoking for me…).

Cross-stitch progress

It’s a slow crafting week here as I get ready for some time off from work (that always requires prep, planning and the dreaded IT documentation).

I’m imagining a present for Marge that involves some of the buttons she gave me attached to aida cloth with shisha stitches. More to come on that (I’m going to try sketching out my design first then creating it in stitch – working on creating my own patterns.)

And here’s my progress on the hooded baby towel:

Cross-stitch so far
Cross-stitch so far – I can see ducks and bubbles, but I’m not sure what’s happening in the middle (even from the pattern)

I can see some shapes forming, but I’m questioning some of my “in-stash” color choices and I’m also out of some of the main colors I randomly assigned. I probably should have bought the yellow’s, at the very least – there’s a lot of that color. But I still have faith that the outline stitches will bring it together (plus a trip to the store for more thread!). WIP for sure!

It’s really hard for me to continue on free form patterns not knowing what the outcome will be – I get kind of hung up on the intended end result and whether this path will actually get me there. I think that’s a first hurdle to overcome – probably best achieved with lots of experimentation.

Mandala Magic

My Valentine’s Day gift turned into an amazing kismet experience!

My sweetie got me an amazing book he found at a used book sale: “The Language of the Goddess” by Marija Gimbutas. He bought it for the patterns (which he knew I could use in my art – and he is so right!) but here’s the fun surprise we discovered in the unwrapping.

Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess
Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess; I was flipping through the book and when I saw this illustration I remembered this mandala I colored in the past.
Something I colored awhile back; "Coloring Mandalas" by Susanne F. Fincher
Something I colored awhile back; “Coloring Mandalas” by Susanne F. Fincher

Turns out the illustrations in Susanne’s book cite the Marija Gimbutas book more than once. WHAT A FIND!! It was a really fun connection point to make on a Valentine’s Day venture.

I took a “stab” at needle felting!

It’s a goofy title, but very apropos if you’ve done any needle felting. I went to a meet-up and used a felting kit to create this little bit of cuteness:

Phillip the Felted Phenguin (BA, Alliteration; MSA, Onomatopoeia)
Phillip the Felted Phenguin (BA, Alliteration; MFA, Onomatopoeia; yearbook quote: “I’m a conflicted soul.”)

So this took about 2.5 hours, and he’s more “woolly-looking” and less “puffy-looking” than I might have liked for a finished felted product. But that takes a lot o’ stabbing y’all. I only poked my finger (about) 5 times in the making of this bit of cuteness. And I’m not sure his feet are attached well enough to stand much articulation. But that’s not what felted creatures are for, is it (what are they for again…? Oh cuteness, right!) So he needs a scarf that I’ll be crocheting for him at another time between projects. I was supposed to felt it, but it was such a skinny piece of wool I (tried but) couldn’t imagine felting it in the end – crocheting seemed like the best approach.

Light, Love and Cross Stitch

Light

I’m participating in a photography posting project for the next 40 days with another favorite (Texan) blogger I follow, Karen Walrond on Chookooloonks. The call is to post pics of light for the next 40 days and tag them: #40daysoflight (oh lookie – she’s here in SD tonight for a speaking engagement – fun!). So here’s today’s shot from my garden this morning:

Flowers outside my studio: "Beefsteak Begonia" (can you imagine?!)
Flowers outside my studio: “Beefsteak Begonia” (can you imagine?!)

The name of this flower surprises me anew every time I remember it – so seemingly incongruous. But you can see a glimpse of the huge green stem these things come from (in the background) – all xylem and phloem and really juicy. Then there’s the begonia leaves themselves, which are each bigger than your hand (I don’t care who you are) and are just as thick and juicy as the stems. So I get it. But still…what a name…

Anywho’s, the light was striking and I was happy to catch all those little yellow stamen/pistil guys perched among the pink butterflies.

Love

Today I got a fun treat in the mail from my bestie!

Dish towel, glitter stickers and LOTS O' LOVE!!
Dish towel, glitter stickers and LOTS O’ LOVE!!

God bless the postal service, for it brings us all the mistakes we make on amazon with a bottle of wine, all the impetuous ebay purchases (only do “Buy It Now,” the rest is way too stressful – tho I do know a Ninja Expert in this space), and (most importantly!!) FRIEND LOVE. Keep sending those snail mails, friends. Nothing beats a hand-addressed envelope from a friend in the mailbox to brighten things up. (amiright? canigetanamen?) P.S. To all my friends and family reading this, I promise to do better on this front. Ahem and amen.

And Now for the Cross Stitch!!!

This part actually includes love and light too, so it all works out! I’ve just started working on a present for a friend with a new baby and boy, have I messed this up in the past (remember the Mother Goose cross stitch blanket I started 100 years ago? That child is starting kindergarten in August and the blanket is *maybe* halfway done. It was clearly destined for an entirely different child. Maybe I’m involved in some time travel here…stories needle workers tell themselves…). In fact, I found that same pattern at the store this time around, for $45. Did I actually pay that and expect to get done in this century?! I noticed the other (simpler) patterns nearby were half the price. Ah youth (Or “yute,” depending on where you’re from – it’s about 1:20 in – such a fave.).

So I went to one store that had great patterns and no supplies – so I bought a pattern book for bibs, expecting to buy some bibs at the next store. Then I went to the next store, that had great supplies and so-so patterns – so I bought a blank cross-stitch hooded towel and a monkey. Let me explain.

Stuffed monkey with aida cloth bib (of course!)
Stuffed monkey with aida cloth bib (of course!)

So there’s THIS cute monkey guy, who’s actually going to sport the baby’s name on his bib without actually BEING a bib…get it? I don’t either, but I couldn’t imagine myself using a hand cross-stitched bib to feed my baby all the dribble that ends up spilling right back out. It’s a nice idea, but would they really use it? Would it turn into a hand-washing nightmare that never sees the light of day? I remember the drudgery and confusion that was high chair mealtime and I can’t imagine bringing a hand-stitched item into the mix. The other stuffed animal was a peacock, so clearly I made the best choice for the audience.

Then there’s the hooded baby towel. No picture of that yet because it’s all white and lacking stitching and a cute baby. But here’s the fun part so far: I decided to forage for the embroidery thread colors in my stash instead of buying “all materials needed.” So I may run out of some colors (and it kind of exhausted me to find the equivalents of everything that might/hopefully go together in my meager stash; then I got distracted by netflix again, this time: “Slow Learners.” I tried to work through it but the facial expressions needed tending to…so I lost another 1.5 hours). But here’s what’s happening tomorrow!

A little scrub-a-dub yellow duckie theme for the hood - should be cute!
A little scrub-a-dub yellow duckie theme for the hood – should be cute!

I also purchased some white terry cloth to sew into the hood, to cover up my ends and protect his precious little head. At the cutting table I had the brilliant idea to use the extra for a matching wash cloth. How cute can I make that?!?!?! First things first. And if the towel doesn’t work out (for this particular blessed small being), I always have the monkey…and the promise of more small beings down the road. Did I mention I have two weeks to complete? I CAN DO THIS (I’m so bad at estimating projects!!).