Archive for December, 2010

Christmas surprise

Found in our mailbox–this envelope from Australia. When I saw that it was from Maureen, my heart dropped. Oh no, I thought, she has sent me a fabric card and there’s no way I can reciprocate.

But when I opened the envelope, I saw, in a plastic baggie, first this:

And my heart leapt. She had sent a card for June, whom I visit every Wednesday and take to church in her wheelchair every Sunday.

Some months ago I got June started making stitches on a doodle cloth. Each week I photographed her work and showed it to Maureen, who saw the most wonderful images in June’s doodling, which I reported to June.

Although June has lost interest in doodling (and gained interest in other activities she’d declined previously), she remembers Maureen. She was delighted when she saw this card.

It is so delicately stitched, mostly with single strands of floss, and tiny beads.  With the card I took a framed snapshot of Maureen, which June has in her room.

Now, when I first looked at the plastic baggie and saw the card for June, I turned it over and saw this card:

And when I opened the baggie, I discovered two cards. This one was for Ernie and me.

I tried to figure out how Maureen had crafted this card, and wrote what I thought, asking her to tell me how she’d made it. She wrote back:

“I got a download pattern for the deer for embroidery.  When I did the felted version I sent a photo back to the designer, who liked it.

“I used a piece of wool batting , the size of the postcard, overlaid ordinary white felt at the bottom and needlepunched them together.  I added pieces of white fluffy wool and needle punched again; I cut deer from ordinary fawn felt and again punched, then did fly stitches with 2/1? strands DMC.  I had bought several hanks of variegated mohair knitting yarn – funny stuff that is spun tightly for about 8 inches and then barely a twist to it for at least 8 inches.   I cut it up for mixed media things, so for the tree I laid a deep shade for the trunk and arranged greens over that and once again set my little punch to work.

“A couple of years ago I was asked to make a quilt from re-cycled pin striped clothing for a Country Bumpkin book (the Editor was in our Aussie group and asked several of us to do different crafts for the book).   Boy that was a true miracle that I did it, found the measurements worked Perfectly and not only did I get paid but received the quilt back too.    Finally got paid last year (company notoroius apparently as being slow but good payers).  From the proceeds I bought a 5-needle punch and brush and have had great fun with it.  My DD3 used it recently and was so pleased with it I bought her one as well.

“Thinking of the deer card, I wondered what the pale green swags were….LOL   The stitch is Palestrina but I can’t remember what thread it is in.”

(I had been unable to identify the teeny, tiny stitches of the swags.)

Later she wrote:

“By the way, the deer postcard was a freebie for needlework, which I translated to felt.  I got it here http://bustleandsew.blogspot.com/2010/11/woodland-friends-at-christmas-project.html”

If you would like to see more of Maureen’s beautiful work, go to her blog or to her Flickr site.

Well, Maureen’s cards have brought pleasure to many people, as I carried them around and showed them left and right to others where I visit June. So they brought me double pleasure–in seeing them and having one for myself, and in showing them to others.

Read Full Post »

I was helping grandson Luke and granddaughter Michelle move their mother Anne (my daughter-in-love and personal trainer) from one apartment to another in the same complex. For most of four hours, I was packing boxes, carrying them to the garage for pickup, and transporting furniture in my car. All the while, of course, we were talking and laughing.

When I arrived at Anne’s apartment, Luke was taping boxes.

Michelle was packing up everything in the kitchen.

By the time they had made two trips through the parking lot to the new apartment with Michelle’s car (Saturn sedan) packed solidly with boxes and Luke had trucked some furniture there using a dolly, I realized that my car  might be useful.

It was amazing how much furniture they could get into it.

After Luke worked this chest of drawers toward the front seat, the rear door actually closed. If you look closely, you can glimpse the large hope chest next to the chest of drawers. Here are Michelle and Luke taking the chest of drawers up to the new apartment.

I drew the line at carrying heavy boxes and furniture up those stairs. Luke brought all the boxes up the stairs and Michelle and I carried them inside.

Now here comes the large hope chest, out of my car,

and up the stairs.

Lunch for the crew was delivered while we were returning to Anne’s “old” apartment.

Michelle copping an extra slice.

I think Luke may have eaten more than a whole pizza by himself.

After which, I asked if he would lift me.

Besides being a serious scholar at Reed College, Luke is a serious weight-lifter. He can dead-lift 500 pounds (meaning lifting weights off the floor from a standing position). I weigh 110, nothing for him. After a couple more lifts, while Michelle tried to get the perfect shot, he effortlessly held me aloft once more.

They loaded up my car with more furniture and this time the hatch door had to stay open. After they got that stuff into the new apartment, I took my leave. It was so much fun, being useful, working along with them. When I offered to help, I hadn’t thought that my car would be useful, too.

I could not have had a more enjoyable Christmas Eve. What a joyous day!

Read Full Post »

And the race goes on

Yesterday I received this trophy from the Baltimore Running Festival, sponsor of the 5K race I ran as part of the FUNd Run team.

Isn’t this a hoot? As you can see, one of the claws got broken off as I struggled to get whatever it was out of its impenetrable packaging.

And look at the back.

Yes, this is what it says:

I guess this means there were two other women over 70 in the race.  Now I’m motivated to increase my speed.

Read Full Post »

Card for Li

It happened very spontaneously. Li, who is a Chinese immigrant, is the engineer who built our computers about ten years ago, and he has made house calls to work on them many times. Always he spends extra time helping me with my computer, and we’ve had lots of conversations as we wait for the computer to do something. He’s never charged enough. I keep telling him that, and he refuses to charge more. Last week I had two computer failures and even before the second one I had begun thinking, “How can I thank Li?’

Well, I know he appreciates my work, so I thought I should make something for him. I should do something that takes my time, as he so generously gives me his time.

But what? Not knowing what I was going to do and not having my computer as a design tool, with little thought I traced letters from one of my stitch alphabet books onto Sulky tearaway paper, chose a fabric, and stitched “Thank you” with heavy #3 pearl cotton. Now what? I had stitched on a piece of cotton fabric about 8 X 10 inches.

I thought of a number of possibilities for using this piece, but it didn’t take long for me to decide to make it into a card. I checked my stash to see whether I had a stiff enough backing material, and found that heavy Pellon would work just fine. I drew a rectangle on the stitched fabric 6 X 3.5 inches, which looked like a nice amount of space around the lettering. With no idea of how I was going to stitch this, I just knew that I wanted to cover the fabric with stitches.

First, I made an uneven grid of pink rayon ribbon. Over that I made another uneven grid of bright pink #3 pearl cotton. Then I made curving lines of chain stitching using two strands of a dark red variegated thread, probably #12 pearl cotton. With a variegated pink-to-blue #8 Valdani pearl cotton, I made lines of varying size herringbone stitching. Okay. Now I needed darker areas to tone down the bright colors. What stitch to use next? Bullion. I scattered, actually I made vertical curved lines of groups of three bullion stitches in very, very dark red #8 pearl cotton.

That done, I wanted some real red accents, so I made ribbed spider web stitches randomly placed. Finally, to give it some liveliness and sparkle, I dropped little fly stitches around, using a single strand of an ivory rayon floss.

As I was working on this project, I kept thinking I should be photographing each stage of its development. But, you know what? From beginning to end, I didn’t know whether this piece was going to be trashed. It sure didn’t look like anything I would want to show anyone. The reason why I kept working on it was that not only had my computer crashed, Ernie had crashed, too, with another brain attack–the third in four weeks. I was in, shall I say, a rather disturbed state of being. Stitching and stitching, not knowing where it was going, was a  stress outlet. It was kind of like the experience of doing my crazy patchwork improvisation during my manic phase of recovery.

By the time I’d added the shiny fly stitches, I was satisfied enough with the work to finish it as a card. With Misty Fuse I fused the stitched cotton to Pellon, added another piece of the same fabric for the back, and buttonhole stitched an edging.

A thank-you note should be hand-written, don’t you agree? I wrote it on iron-on cotton fabric and ironed it on the back.

Read Full Post »


On Tuesday my computer froze. I’ve been without a computer since then. Today I’ve been working steadily starting at 7:00 this morning, restoring it as much as possible.

The engineer who built it and has maintained it for about a decade gave me a new hard drive with 160 gb–twice as much as I had. He replaced the graphics card which was the initial cause of failure. He also installed the latest version of Microsoft Office, which cannot access some valuable data. I’ve lost my calendar! And I have to learn how to use the new programs and reset all my passwords.

Oh well. I’m back online anyhow.

While I was offline, Ernie crashed. He had a brain attack Thursday morning which lasted until late yesterday. Today he seems to back to status quo ante, but each attack leaves him more diminished, physically and mentally.

Fortunately, I’m okay.

Read Full Post »