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Monday, February 24, 2014

Heart Sampler

I've been working on this project on and off for a few years; every February I'd sew one or two heart-themed squares.  This year I sewed one, and then, deciding I was ready to finish this, pieced them all together:

The heart made of yo-yos (the link includes a little tutorial for impromptu free-hand yo-yos) was the first square I made; I got the idea from American Patchwork & Quilting's Febuary 2008 issue, from a quilt designed by Tonee White.  The two little squares are just little doodads I put together -- a heart-shaped yo-yo and a beaded heart for the top one, and three crocheted squares and a tarnished glitter heart for the bottom one.

This pattern also came from American Patchwork & Quilting, June2004, designed by Miriam Gourley (a beautiful quilt in soft, dusty colors).  I resized it, and in the process forgot about the border, which is why the hearts are so small against the background. I explain the applique technique here.

This one was inspired by yet another pattern from American Patchwork & Quilting, this time the April 2002 issue.  The designer (Tonee White again) had a five by five grid of different motifs; I used the hearts but added a simple felt flower and a button bouquet. I plan on quilting a horizontal and vertical axis in contrasting perle cotton, as was done in the original; I'll probably also quilt the rest of the piece that way.

This square came from a pin I found on pinterest; the original pattern is here.  I tweaked the measurements a bit to get a square, and added a border to get it to the right size.

Once I started putting together the different squares, I realized I needed one more 3" by 6" (finished) block.  I quickly whipped up a crazy rectangle using fabrics from the other sqaures, and used ecru perle cotton in three sizes to embroider the seams.  I tried to incorporate a heart motif in each one; in the process I developed a chain stitch variation that looks like a row of hearts; I may fine-tune it and write about it later.

It feels good to have put the top together.  I will probably set it aside for now, and quilt it next February.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Book Review and a Necklace

The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code by Margalit Fox concerns the decipherment of Linear B, the writing system used by the Mycenean Greeks in the late Bronze age.  It's not about Michael Ventris, the man who actually cracked the code, however, but about Alice Kober, who worked for decades on the script but died before she could decipher it.  It was her insights and tremendous cataloging efforts that gave Ventris the tools he needed to succeed.  Not surprisingly, Kober's efforts have been overlooked by academics who generally didn't pay too much attention to women at that time, no matter how smart.  This book is Fox's attempts to correct that, and to bring both Kober and her work to light.

It is a fascinating book, not just for the gender politics but also for the enormity of the project; Linear B, first discovered at Knossos in Crete, was an unknown script encoding an unidentified language. The intuitive leaps and careful calculations Kober and others made -- that it was a syllabic script with some ideograms, that the language was inflected (very hard to write in a syllabary), that the language was Greek (an idea almost everyone resisted) -- are impressive, to say the least.

Linear A, on the other hand, is an unknown script encoding an unknown language.  The two scripts are related, as it is most likely that the Myceneans took the script of the Cretans and adapted it for their own language, but because we have no idea what language the Minoan civilization used, any attempts to decipher Linear A have stalled.  And then there are the Cretan heiroglyphs, yet another undeciphered script.  A little research into these two writing systems (fascinating!) led me to the Phaistos Disc, a clay disk with apparently Cretan heiroglyphs that were actually typeset over 3000 years before Gutenberg. There are all sorts of wacky theories about it, but it most likely relates to Linear A and the Minoan language.

And what do you know, I have a tiny replica of the Phaistos Disc in the form of a pewter pendant that I picked up ages ago!  So a necklace had to be made:
At first I planned on using glazed ceramic beads in colors similar to those in Minoan art, but the plain clay beads went so nicely with the leather cord I stuck with them; I have so little neutral-colored jewelry anyway.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hearts Galore

Heart of Hearts, designed by Barbara Richardson, from the Jan./Feb. 2008 issue of Needlepoint Now.
The original design called for white and gold threads, but I don't care for that combination, so I used Caron Collection threads (Waterlilies and Wildflowers) in Cherry Cordial, and pink Kreinik braid.  Because so much of the background is exposed in this design, a plain white canvas would not do.  I mixed together red, purple, and white acrylics to get a mottled pinky-purple color, watered it down quite a bit, and sponged it on.

To finish it, I backed it with silk and sewed it on the machine (twice, for extra security).  To get a neater finish and to avoid having to slip stitch the canvas closed, I sewed around the entire heart with no gap for turning.  Instead, I cut a slit in the center of the silk back to turn the stitching right side out, and then glued on top of the slit an ultrasuede heart.

For the Beadboys' classes, rather than sitting with them to make individual valentines for each classmate, I made heart cookies inspired by this pin:
For the cookies I used my go-to chocolate cut-out cookie recipe from Everyday Food, by far the best and easiest version.  For the pink frosting (yes, it is very pink, the camera washed it out for some reason) I used store-bought and added red food coloring; it was rather bland (next time I'll add vanilla or something) but the kids won't care.  For the piping -- this was the best part -- I used a frosting gun I bought ages ago.  It was so easy!  I've tried cheap pastry bags, good pastry bags, and ziploc bags before but I could never get the hang of it.  This was awesome, almost as fun as my cookie gun.

I was compelled to make these:
I don't know why, and I don't know what I will do with them.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Button and Charm Necklace

The idea came from Beautiful Button Jewelryby Susan Davis, right there on the cover -- a necklace of peach pearls, with vintage lockets, buttons, and charms.  I rooted through my stash (including jewelry I no longer wear) and pulled together this:

Which then became this:

A locket box, into which I inserted a scrap of photocopied vintage handwriting and a lace doodad, and a plastic button with a lacy pattern:

Vintage buttons:

An inexpensive "brass" locket, another vintage button, and a milagro paired with a mother-of-pearl ring:

A little brass button (there are three more on the necklace, I wish I could remember where they are from), an orphaned earring (one of my favorites, darn it) with the lever-back finding cut off (paired with a shell button to keep the cut-off part from scratching me), and a cheap watch face with with another shell button on top: