27 December, 2008

October Done!

Here is my October Butterfly. I have really been zipping along! Once I got all the Christmas gifts completed it was a little easier to find the time to catch up. The colour of the photo is not perfect but close. I have a new camera (Nikon D60) but I'm still learning so I'm sure I'll get better photos soon. The words with this have been interesting; including things like Vitamin C! The colours here remind me of oranges & we have been eating them to combat a cold. It is interesting to see that some of my words from last month & this month were the same. I'm sure that will happen constantly & I'm letting it brew. I know that the words that repeat themselves will end up being used more promently in the final piece, I'm curious to see where they will lead.

I actually have worked a lot more than just my butterfly. I have also finished the background patchwork that will go with this. I have realized that I am not perfect when it comes to doing the patchwork but I really don't mind. It is me. I am not perfect. I still don't know how all of these will go together but the thoughts are flowing. Seeing this piece sit with last month's piece, they really flow together. I am going to enjoy beading these as well. I think I am leaning towards making them 12 individual pieces so that I can move them around to create different colour patterns but still haven't decided on that yet. Until I do, I can't actually work with this background piece, but give it a little more time and it will come to me!

I have also been spending a lot of time getting things prepared for the 12 months of the project.
On this last picture you will see all the colours that I have pulled out to use for the butterflies each month. What you can't really see is that behind these colours I also have the strips that will be used to create the patchwork. Cutting the strips took a really long time but now I have everything set & ready to go. It will make the beading process flower better.

It all just emphasizes how much I love colours & my journey this year to actually record what each colour makes me think of is already putting lots of smiles on my face! Just pulling all the fabrics together made me smile. I have put the rest of the fabric that the strips were cut from into their own drawer. Opening the drawer & looking at the rainbow of colours makes me smile. It is easy to work in my workroom when I can look up on my design wall & see these strips, just waiting to be made into patchwork to compliment my butterflies! There is something about looking at a rainbow of colours that really gets my energy levels up!

18 December, 2008

BJP September Part 2

OK, I couldn't stop! I had to finish the quilting part of my idea. This took a lot to get sorted out but now that I know what I'm doing, the rest of them will be quicker. The darker fabric in the middle is the fabric for my September butterfly. One of the colours on either end are the fabric for October 2008 & August 2009. My goal is to be working with colours for the year. I have found a way to make the colours flow from one month to the next using fabric and the beading on my butterfly. For my beading, I have decided that one of the beads from this months butterfly will also be used in next months butterfly. I couldn't put this down. I'm already nearly done with October. It will not take long for me to catch up!

As for the quilt part, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this but I'm sure by the end of the year it will come to me. Maybe everything will be put in one big quilt. Maybe my September Butterfly will be on this piece or maybe it wont. I will have to see. I will definitely be putting my words for the month on this piece but I'm realizing that some of my words for September and October were the same. I thought it might be interesting to see where that goes before I start adding the words to the fabric.

17 December, 2008

BJP September Done!

Well, it is finally done! I could say that I'm all up to date & that I just haven't taken the pictures yet but then that would be robbing myself of my process. My problem was I had this idea in my head & I kept mulling it over & over & over. I wasn't sure it was going to work but until I had the time to actually sit down & figure it out, it would haunt my mind.

I have been extremely busy traveling, making Christmas gifts, having family home, etc. but yesterday I forced myself to finish & I'm so glad I did. I will be working through the colour wheel. Along with this I am working on a small patchwork piece that will also have similar colours in it. Not sure yet that I will sew this butterfly to the patchwork piece for this month but the two will work together.

I have also been recording words that come to mind as I'm working. For September, my words are: Chinese, blood, happy, strong, favourite colour family. I'm hoping to incorporate these words somewhere in the finished piece but I will have to see.

Anyway, now that I have the process actually figured out, it will hopefully be easy to catch up. Now if I can just find a couple more hours in the day!

13 December, 2008


I've been working on more Christmas presents. I had my husband pick up some shawls for family members and today I made cases for them and tissue holders to match.

I have also been working on socks for my daughter. She will wear socks I make so I'm happy to make them for her!

03 December, 2008

Coffee Sleeve

I have been working on Christmas presents. I thought that reusable coffee sleeves would be a great idea. Then I was in Hancock fabrics & found the coffee bean fabric. The inside is the fabric that the pocket is made from. In between the two layers is insulation batting. I made the first one & then thought it would be cool to actually put a pocket on the sleeve to hold a Starbucks coffee card. I now have about 10 more of these to make. Aren't they cool! (or should I say hot!) This is the small cup, they also fit the largest cup.

I have been working on my sewing and beading projects. I just haven't been taking pictures or writing on my blog. I need to change that. Whether anyone reads this or not, it is a great place for me to document that I've actually accomplished something!

If you want directions for this coffee sleeve, e-mail me. I put together directions for myself for next time I need to make a bunch of these.

05 November, 2008

Fine Art of Fiber this weekend!

Fine Art of Fiber (FAOF) is this weekend. Don't miss it! Not only do I have 7 pieces in this show, but there are numerous other people who have made some wonderful pieces that will be on display.

There is also a boutique where you can pick up some wonderful gifts including kids gifts, scarves, hats, jackets, quilts, etc. It is well worth the visit.

The FAOF is held at the Chicago Botanical Gardens and is open Friday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm. There is a preview night on Thursday from 6:30pm to 9pm.

I will be there personally on Friday from 10-12pm. I will be working in the exhibition gallery for Women's Journeys in Fiber. This year we have done Robes. It is well worth the visit just for that!

13 October, 2008

Where does the time go!!!

Where does the time go! I took this photo of half of my September butterfly before I left Chicago for Hong Kong. This trip to Hong Kong was going to be the first time since I left in 1992 that I had been in HK for 3 weeks! I should have plenty of time, right? Wrong! I leave here in 2 days and I have not done 75% of what I wanted to do! I was going to try & blog every day about my trip and it just didn't happen! Next time.

I do have some pictures of Hong Kong on Picaso I will try to get more up later.

But for the moment here is half of my September Butterfly. the colours are better than what they are showing here, I hope. I'm working from a tablet laptop at the moment and the screen colours are now always what I think they should be. I'm happy so far with the way this turned out. I have to do the second side and then I will have to figure out how I'm going to make it into a butterfly. I know in my mind how I want to do it but let's see how it works once I start trying to make it into a butterfly :)

It has been wonderful being in Hong Kong. I went to the Hong Kong Stitch N Bitch knitting group. I was only able to make it to one meeting but it was a wonderful group of women and I look forward to being able to knit with them again when I'm back in January (anything to avoid the cold Chicago winters!).

14 September, 2008

Butterfly Beginnings

I decided from the beginning that I wanted to do something 3-D for my BJP this time. Immediately the thought of a butterfly came to mind & I have been mulling over how to achieve this every since.

Of course, the perfectionist in me wouldn't let me start until I had all the kinks worked out but that wont happen until I try one, so that is what I did today. Here is the inner workings of the butterfly. I will be using this stiff interfacing (Stitch & Shape by Floriani). This is stiff but a needle will go through it easily. This will give me the shape of the wings and will give me strength for when I finish the butterflies. All of the butterflies will be displayed on a small quilt of some sort - at least that is the plan at the moment.
I have been doing an on-line Color Theory class with Judy Perez. I love colour but I have never really studied colour. Judy's class was the perfect opportunity to start that study. There are 12 colours on the colour wheel and 12 months in the year so the goal is to do a butterfly a month in one colour on the colour wheel, beginning with red (my favourite colour!).

I have decided to use batiks, well, just because I like them! I already have all of my colours chosen and they are very exciting! I will try to mirror image the beading and will start with red fabric, red beads but we will see how that goes!

Here is my practice piece that showed me that my idea would work. These wing pieces together are just shy of 3" long. Now, to go find beads!!!

13 September, 2008


OK, I finally got my August BJP piece photographed. When I changed computers, turns out the new computer doesn't have a card reader so until I obtained one, I have not been able to upload photos. This was a photo that my daughter took of the baby pandas when she was working at Ocean Park in Hong Kong. They had only just arrived and she was there on a summer internship. She had such a wonderful view of the pandas. What a fantastic experience for a college student! She is now in vet school and I like to think that her working with pandas helped her get there.

12 September, 2008

Photoshop & Tablet laptops

My daughter was required to have a tablet laptop for vet school. I loved it so much that I decided it was time to replace my old laptop with one. I'm getting ready to head to Hong Kong and with my husband retiring at the end of the year, I will be doing a lot more travel. My old laptop wouldn't close. Well, actually, it would close but if you closed it, you couldn't get it open again!

But I absolutely LOVE my new laptop. Now this picture is nothing spectacular but it was my first try at using Photoshop with the pen! Wow, what a way to draw in the computer! You literally draw on the computer screen! It was so easy to do (much better than Illustrator). A whole new world of experiment has just opened up!

30 August, 2008

Happy Labor Day

Yes, I know it is early but I'm up early and had a minute to type. I have pictures to add but I now have a new computer. Actually it is my son's older computer but it was better than the one I had so I'm taking it over. But it is an Alienware computer. For those of you who don't know what that is, it is a great computer but one more designed for gaming. Hence, they don't seem to think that camera card readers are necessary :) I have to wait until I can get a card reader for it, which is not a problem. See they have this really cool 7in1 card reader that also has a floppy disk drive. Why would I need a floppy disk drive? Turns out some of the computer programmes that I'm using are that old!

So have a great long weekend. I'm spending it by reinstalling all of my computer programmes. But the best thing is that 2 of my programmes that I use every day on my laptop because they wouldn't work on the desktop, now work on the desktop! Yeah!!!!!

22 August, 2008

Returning to Normal?

OK, it has been awhile. I have been here, quietly working away but my life has not been my own. All three kids graduated in May/June and my parents were here from Australia for that. Then my husband was home for the summer. Now the kids have all returned to school, including my youngest who we dropped off at college for his freshman year. That was a tough one.

But I'm all ready to get back into sewing, beading, painting, working, etc. The North Suburban NeedleArts Guild is participating in the Fine Art of Fiber show coming up soon. We were asked to create a 5" square to be attached with other 5" squares that will be displayed as an example of the type of work that we do. Here is my entry.

03 May, 2008

October Finally Finished!

October is finally finished! I had been trying to work with what I originally started on while in Hong Kong but it was just not working. Sometimes you just have to move on! October was a busy month. I spent 2 1/2 weeks traveling literally around the world with carry on only! An interesting experience :) I started in Hong Kong, we then flew on to Amsterdam where we were impressed with the amount of bikes! I have never seen so many. We then ended up in London for a meeting my husband was attending (the purpose of my ticket). This is my version of Big Ben. From there I flew back to Chicago. I was trying different things with this piece. I'm not sure how I like it but I have learnt some new dos & don'ts for beading so that is important.

26 April, 2008

Where the Lepricorns Play!

March is a green month. It is the month that everyone is Irish (I am actually part Irish), it is also the month that the grass starts to turn green. It is a peaceful & fun colour.

When my kids were in grade school, for St. Patti's day, a friend and I used to go to the school early in the morning & leave little lepricorn foot prints. To me, March is the month of fun! Here I have a pool of green for the lepricorns to play in!

25 April, 2008

Froggy Fun

I finished my first fabric journal. I know these pictures could be better but if I didn't take something as soon as it was completed, I may not get them taken! This process was a lot of fun & I have learnt a lot of things that I will NOT do on the next one! I don't like the edges, in future I will probably have them totally finished. I had originally tried doing a blanket stitch around the edge but it was very hard on the fingers. Maybe if I had a different type of batting it would be different. But the whole thing is a learning process & I'm enjoying it.

The idea for a frog book came when I walked into a new fabric store & there sitting on the floor was the most incredible fun eye fabric, on closer inspection, they were frogs! It was so fun & cute that I couldn't resist.

"Froggy Fun"

"Where is the food?"

This page has little bugs flying around :)
Where is the party?
This may be hard to read but the beads on the left spell "Party Time"

This says "Dinner time" and I tried to embroider what looked like grubs. The picture of the frog on the right is a photo of the frog that sits in my Dad's backyard. He actually grows grubs to feed it!

This says "Leap Frog"

This has beads spelling out the word "Ribbit" and my signature and date on the right.

Don't you just love the eyes! :)

22 April, 2008

April is finished!

I'm so excited. I have been struggling with my work & I just wasn't happy with it. I'm still struggling with my February piece but I have decided, it has to be started over! I have been trying to stick to Robin's suggestion of always keep moving & you will grow to love it but it was not working. Being bogged down, I was having trouble moving onto March & April. Once I decided to just start over on February, March & April came flowing out! Here is the picture of my April piece. (March will be coming soon).
Everyone should have one special day of the year when it is all about them. My day of the year is in April so this piece is in celebration of me :) I had an absolutely wonderful birthday this year & a week later, my kitchen still smells beautiful from the wonderful flowers. Note to everyone - when sending flowers to someone who has cats in the house - don't include Baby's Breath! Receiving flowers had been banned from my house for a long time because I hated cleaning up the mess. Everyone ignored me this year but no one sent flowers with Baby's Breath! What a difference! I can enjoy my flowers & not have to worry about the mess!

10 April, 2008

Fabric Journal

I have spent the last 2 days in a workshop with Pam Sussman. You can see a copy of her book here at Amazon.com. Her book is wonderful, well illustrated & easy to read. If you get the chance, you should do a workshop with her.
I finished a Muslin sample book using the French Stitch Binding & I have started 2 new books - a button edge with a Chinese theme of food! and a Muslin Journal with the theme of frogs. The picture below shows the cover. Can you spot the eyes! :)

But the best thing is that I have figured out how I am going to put my Beaded Journal Projects into a fabric journal. I'm so excited to get started!

25 March, 2008

I'm home

OK, I know I have been bad about blogging but I have been busy. I've returned home after a school visit & I have the next 6 1/2 weeks to myself to get caught up on everything before all my kids graduate from their respective schools & my parents come from Australia for 3 weeks.

I have been knitting, beading, sewing. I will try to get caught up soon.

Here's wishing spring will come soon! It seems to be taking it's time in coming. It had better be a long summer to make up for it!

29 February, 2008


I am still here. I've been working on family history research. But I was also in San Francisco & Las Vegas with my husband. He refuses to come all the way to Chicago in the winter because of the cold. Can't blame him actually.

Anyway, I made these socks on the flights. I loved working with the yarn but I will never use it again. There was a join in each ball plus, the balls were wound different. One I had to do from the inside & one from the outside. Very disappointing as I was trying to make them match.

I am still beading. I have decided what I'm doing for February so I'll try to get that done today. I still have one more day of February! :) February is Chinese New Year & this year it is my year, being year of the rat. I will be beading something to do with that.

02 February, 2008

December Done

I am done with December although the colours of the photo are not showing quite what I want. The blue background is a really bright blue.

For me, Xmas should be when it is warm, not in cold Chicago, sitting on a beach somewhere. So I decided to bead my own Xmas tree on the beach. As I started beading this piece, I was remembering my favourite beach - Shell Beach, near Port Macquarie in NSW, Australia. I had some shells so I found a way to bead with them. Every time I look at this piece, I am reminded of my brother teaching my kids to body surf on this beach and the rocks where my eldest went fishing. The perfect beach!

22 January, 2008

Aussie Jacket

I recently did a workshop with Elizabeth Mini. She uses the method I believe is called Stack & Whack for making some absolutely wonderful garments. I took some of my Australian print fabrics & started working on my own jacket. I loved working with this method. Instead of machine quilting the garment I am using beads. Here is a close up:

Aboriginies like to use a lot of dots in their paintings and as the fabrics I have are inspired or painted by aboriginals, I decided to sew the beads in a dot format.

In my quest to find out this year what it is that I want to do, I like this method. I like taking lots of different fabrics & making it into a jacket & I LOVE incorporating beads with it. Fingers crossed the finished product looks as good in person as it does in my head!

21 January, 2008

January Finished

OK, I was working on this piece & then realized that I don't have to fill every single bit of fabric with beads. I didn't want to take away from my heart tree on the left so I started sewing the large beads as dots & then realized it was perfect! They look like snow falling & as I was sewing them, it was snowing! So, August, October & December may not be done, but January is! And before the end of the month!!!!! :)
Of course, the biggest problem is getting a proper picture of it to show what it really looks like. I am open to suggestions if anyone has them. Thanks.

Working on January

I know I am behind with my other months but I had an idea for January & I just had to get it started! Hopefully by the end of the day it will be finished but as I have a few moments, I figured I could share so far.

It is cold & grey most of the time in January so I started with a fabric that felt like that. I then decided to do a monocromatic piece. Yes, the flowers look pink but in actual fact, in the right light they also look white. I pulled out all the beads from my white box & went to town. But this is the hardest thing to photo. The beads going around the edge are all the same, but they don't look it. They are more of a silver glow that really adds a sparkle to the whole piece.

What also makes this special is the heart shape beads on the left. A few years ago a close friend of mine died to cancer. Her husband passed onto me all her beads & buttons. As I was looking for white beads, I found the hearts in her stash & knew I had to use them.

So, I am feeling like I'm making something beautiful out of the awful cold weather we are having here in Chicago. Wow, when you get into a piece, it is hard to stop!

17 January, 2008

Painting on fabric

Over the Christmas break, I started trying to draw more. I have always thought of myself as someone who can't draw but I've been working through the book Drawing For The Right Side of the Brain & it is convincing me that I can do this! :)

Anyway, this started out as a doodle drawing - something I have never done before. I decided to transfer it to fabric & paint it like Judy Perez does. Now, I have a long, long way to go before I could ever do anything like Judy does, but I was very happy with the process. I have a lot to learn but I'm willing to try & figure it out!

15 January, 2008

November Page

Yes, I know this is a little behind but I haven't posted a picture of it yet. This piece is inspired by my trip to Shanghai. What struck me as we were landing was all straight rows of land with water canals on either side. These were obviously farming communities. Another thing that I also noticed - everywhere - was the bright blue roofs. Even from our hotel in the middle of Shanghai, looking out the window there were bright blue roofs everwhere!

07 January, 2008

Happy New Year

Well, I feel like life has taken over & I have no idea where it has gone! I was looking through my list of "Where We Have Been" & noticed that for the past year, our family as a whole has traveled so much that I'm surprised anyone was every home! It has been forever since I posted (although I have accomplished some things). On the other hand, your probably never noticed I was gone!

But it is a new year and, at the moment, I only have one trip planned for May for my son's graduation. So, for the moment, I have plenty of time in the house to get some changes done.

This is a big year. All of my kids graduate from their respective schools in May/June. But the biggest thing is that my husband retires at the end of the year. Yes, he will be a young retiree. I'm not that old! :)

I have decided that this is the year to figure out what it is that I want to do. Something I have already discovered this year is that I really do not want to be making large quilts, nor traditional quilts. I love the look of them & I always seem to get pulled in to making one. I feel that if I'm making a quilt, I have to quilt it & I hate that part. I hate having to fight with it to get it in the machine. I just do not enjoy the process. I'm also not enjoying the process of the 1/4" seam as it just doesn't always work for me!

So, for this new year, after I finish what I already have, I will no longer try working on a large traditional quilt. I still need to give small art quilts a shot but the large ones are out! Boy, feels good to finally have made that decision. Lets hope I can stick to it as I do love the look of these quilts!

I have been doing a lot of beading & will get some pictures taken soon. I finished my November Beaded Journal Page. I was having a bit of a problem with October & it was holding me back so I decided to put it aside for the moment & move on. I have not started December but I know what I'm doing. I also know what I'm doing for January, just need to get working on them.

So, I am here & I am working. This is the year to figure out what it is I really want to do & to put aside the things I really don't like doing. It is the year to organize, simplify and discover.