The Finished Wren Embroidery Project

My beautiful embroidery piece sat as a UFO for several months! But I finally finished it. It all started with a pillow that I saw in an Annapolis shop. I loved the pillow. But I have this problem of looking at things and thinking, “I should just make something like that!” I captured a photo of the pillow and here it is.DSC_4418 2

After getting home, I decided to do a sketch from the pillow photo. I was pretty pleased with how I did.Bird pillow 2

But I really wanted to make this my design. I kept the main ideas in the piece but changed it a bit.Bird Pillow 3

Before this I had only done embroidery kits and hadn’t even done one of those in quite awhile. I found transferring the design to be quite challenging. First I tried a method that involved scanning the design, printing it on wax paper, dampening the fabric and then ironing the design onto the fabric. Well, that didn’t turn out too well. I tried transfer paper and pencils. Finally, I taped the paper and then the fabric onto a window and drew the design onto the fabric. Maybe my fabric wasn’t the right kind. It seemed difficult to see the design on the fabric when I used transfer paper and pencils. I was quite attached to the idea of using this fabric though. My family and I went to Gettysburg on the 4th of July during the 150th battle anniversary. I purchased the fabric from a vendor there that was selling fabric for reenactors to make their costumes. Isn’t that fun?! Well, the design was now on the fabric and then I attached it to stretcher bars. It took a bit for me to jump in and stitch. It was totally up to me to come up with the colors and what stitches to use. That was a little daunting. My neighbor, Kathy, came to the rescue. She loaned me a book about embroidery. It was a simple book that seemed to help me get over the hump of starting. I just jumped in.DSC_5046 4

It seemed to be going well. I was working with embroidery floss that I had purchased in a variety bag. I soon determined that I needed to get different floss. This did not have the nice sheen that I was used to and looked rather dull. It doesn’t pay to buy cheap supplies with art. Thankfully, DMC floss looked nice and was easy to get. I continued working on the flowers, trying to work myself up to stitching the wren. Did I want the wren to look as it did on the pillow? No, I had to make this mine. So, I dug through my photo files and found a photo I had taken of a wren back in 2009. It was perfect to use as a reference.DSC_9652 wren

Folks that knew I was working on this project kept asking, “Is the bird done yet? When are you going to do the wren?” So, again, I just had to jump in. It seemed like a good idea to start with his beak and then his “eyebrow.”DSC_5362 3

I loved working on the wren! I decided to make him look as lifelike as I could. I started noticing all the details on the bird in the photo. What a beautiful creature! I noticed that the tail that I drew just didn’t look right. I always call wrens “twang tails” because it looks like if you pushed their tails down and let go, it would go “twang” as it sprung back up. I stitched and tore out and stitched again, finally deciding that the tail was too long! I had to get creative to cover the ink of the drawing and yet make his tail look as I wanted. I was happy with my wren!

I tried new things as I worked on this project. I used different colored threads at the same time. Also, I tried out variegated threads. Here are some closeups of the details.DSC_9854 3 DSC_9886 3 DSC_9885 3 DSC_9881 3

The stitching was complete. Oh, I loved how it turned out! But now I had to decide, would I make it into a pillow as I first planned? After spending so much time and pouring love into the piece, I shuddered to think of it as a pillow, being drooled on, have dirty feet propped on it, threads being pulled. Nope…not a pillow. I determined to get it framed. It was an odd shape and would not be easy to frame. I feared that I would have to get it custom framed. The young man at ACMoore was very helpful in choosing matting and frames. But none of it looked right. Thankfully, I had to leave to meet a friend for lunch so I couldn’t place the order at that moment. He did give me a quote though. Framing was 65% off, but still it would cost $170. Wow. After lunch, I headed to the store again. I searched through the ready made matting and frames and found something that would work! It’s not as beautiful as if it had been custom framed, but I love the price: $14. And I think it looks pretty too!DSC_9889 4

I’m sure enjoying it in our living room.DSC_9878 2

So, what did I learn? It seems that when I want to try something new I go through a period of immobilization. That’s okay, but I need to recognize it and then, after preparing, just get going. I also relearned that trying new things may mean that you start over a couple times as I did when transferring the pattern. Again, I noticed all the incredible detail that God puts into everything that He creates and it made me want to do the same. And I have to remember that things don’t always turn out the way I imagine, but rather take on a life of their own…and that’s okay too.


Embroidery and Paint

I’ve just got to brag about my friend’s art! Peggy is one of my art buddies. We met through a Bible study and soon found out that we both love to create. Last autumn, I asked if she would like to take an online art class with me, Brave Girl Art School. Soon we were throwing paint onto canvas along with fabric, beads, paper and even twigs! We met weekly to work on projects together. She was a great encouragement to me to just jump in and try something new.

We are still attending the same Bible study, but the art class is over and life got busy so we don’t do mixed media together anymore. She is still creating though! And I love her latest projects. Peggy says that embroidery that I did recently inspired her to do embroidery right on a canvas that is prepared for painting. I was working on this wren piece that I completed in the summer. (Here is a post about the wren project.)

This is a closeup of the wren that I stitched this past summer.

This is a closeup of the wren that I stitched this past summer.

My mother-in-law taught me to do these kinds of projects by attaching the fabric to stretcher bars before working them instead of using a hoop. It’s a great alternative!

I staple the fabric onto the stretcher bars. This is the back of my piece.

I staple the fabric onto the stretcher bars. This is the back of my piece.

You never have to move a hoop and there are no marks left over. Peggy thought that I was going to just leave the embroidery on the stretcher bars and hang it. That was not what I had planned for my wren piece. But it spurred on her imagination!

The result is beautiful! By using a canvas that is ready for paint, Peggy was able to color the background with watercolor paint and then stitch through the canvas. DSC_9822 2

She even added beads!DSC_9823 2

I plan to steal her idea..the one that was inspired by my work. Isn’t it wonderful how we can help each other? Thanks, Peggy for the great idea!

Here is Peggy holding her beautiful art pieces! They are ready to hang!

Here is Peggy holding her beautiful art pieces! They are ready to hang!

Completed Things

Last time I shared about a UFO. So, today I thought I would share that I completed the little doll afghan for my granddaughter! Before getting it into the mail, I had to take a photo of it. This cradle was the perfect setting. It was made by my great-grandfather, Charles E. Updyke (1878-1955). He passed away before I was born, so I’m not sure who he made this doll cradle for, but I’ve had it for a long time and it is one of my treasures. Another one is the doll in the photo. My folks brought that back from a vacation for me. I was just a baby and had stayed with my grandma. All three things are handmade and involved grandparents in one way or another. Doesn’t that doll look comfy? I sure hope my granddaughter likes the afghan. It’s really soft!DSC_9775 4

While on the subject of completed things, I made this bracelet this week for a customer that loves pearls!DSC_9773 4

And then my sister-in-law contacted me and wanted some earrings that are both an encouragement and would include her love of birds.DSC_9784 2

These are my favorite verses to go with these earrings:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6&7

“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” Luke 12:24

What are you completing this week?

Sidetracked from a UFO

Do you have UFOs in your house? I sure do! I remember the first time I heard a crafter exclaim about all the UFOs in her house. I thought, “Oh no. She’s seeing things.” She laughed as she explained that it stands for UnFinished Objects. You know, all those art and craft projects you started but never completed? Well, it took my friend, Robin, coming over and asking about crochet stitches to renew my interest in one of my UFOs. As I admired the squares that she planned to stitch together into an afghan, I wondered if I should attempt the stashed away project again.DSC_9712 3

Crochet is a love of mine and after making afghans for each of our three sons I wanted to make one for our living room. It’s a big project to take on for yourself and seems much more fun to make them for someone else. But six years ago when our son, Jeremy, signed up for the Marines and left for boot camp within a month, I needed something to do. This mama’s heart was in shock! And I don’t know about you, but the act of creating helps to not only get my mind off of things but also to bring healing. After choosing a pattern and a color, I became a mad crocheting whirlwind! Square after square piled up. The progress was quite exciting! But I guess I overdid.DSC_9713 3

The project was doomed to become a UFO. Maybe I should have taken more breaks, even though I found working on it so therapeutic. Not so for my wrist and arm. Pain radiated all the way to my elbow. I remember one of my sons saying, “Wait. Isn’t crochet something old ladies do? And you injured yourself crocheting?!” Yeah, I got a lot of sympathy. I tried taking a break and letting my arm heal, but each time I attempted a square, the pain came right back. Out of the 48 squares needed for the afghan I had completed 38. How could I stop now?! But sadly, I stacked them neatly into a plastic bin and hid them in a storage area. DSC_9704 3

Robin’s project renewed my interest in the painful UFO. During those years, I had found a way to crochet. I wasn’t the only “old lady” that had pain from the repetitive motion. I tried several ergonomic hooks from the craft stores. And even some wrist braces. Finally, I found the perfect solution online – the Eleggant Hook set. DSC_9725 2

This wooden “egg” handle kept me from clutching so tightly and it really eased the pain! Using this system, along with a wrist brace and taking it more slowly allowed me to make several doilies. Unfortunately, the egg came with only 6 sizes of hooks. Often, I needed other sizes. My sweet hubby came to the rescue! He took my thread crochet hooks into the garage and loped them off until they were just the right size for the egg. I went along crocheting happily until Robin came over. Suddenly, I really wanted to conquer that afghan! Would I have the right size hook and would it fit the egg? Of course not! Matt to the rescue…again!DSC_9721 2

That guy really is my knight in shining armor! He, again, disappeared into the garage with my crochet hooks and came out with a beautiful solution. These cherry wood blocks actually feel better in my hand than the egg does! The hook is force fitted into the block, so he will have to make a new one for each size hook. And in case you are wondering why there are two hooks and some new colors of yarn, well, now we are to the sidetracked part.

Over the weekend, I was blessed to spend time with my sweet granddaughters. As they took a nap, I worked on another square of the UFO. When Beth, who is almost 4 years old, woke up and found me crocheting, she asked if she could have a square for her doll baby. The square wasn’t completed and I thought it would be fun to make something just for her and in a color she would pick. Immediately she exclaimed, “pink!” then added, “and purple!” DSC_9718 2

I truly intended to make her just a couple squares in the same generic yarn I was using except in pink and purple. But all the yarns in the store beckoned me to see and feel. Before I knew it, I was in the area of yarn for baby projects. Oh, the softness! I couldn’t resist, even though the yarn is thinner and makes smaller squares….and required yet another block to be made in the garage. DSC_9720 2

So, I am sidetracked yet again from the afghan. I wonder will it always be a UFO? It’s sort of like me…not quite finished, not put all the way together, some texture and color, but no edging. Thankfully, I know that God doesn’t just stash me away somewhere. He keeps working on me; adding color, crafting texture and edging artfully. I’m a UFO that will be finished! In the meantime, I will keep plugging away at the projects set before me. Do you have UFOs in your house?DSC_9722 2