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the march of the penguins

This week has been very strange hasn't it?  We've been settling into our new routines and way of being, learning to work around the others in our household so that everyone can do what they need to.  We've set up our guest bedroom as an office for my husband.  My two adult children are both at home and taking online college classes for the rest of the school year.  I'm teaching a middle school costume design class via Zoom. No actual costumes will get made but there will be lots of research and designing. It's a major adjustment for everyone. 

I've been struggling a bit with being able to concentrate on anything for long.  I've also been dealing with an asthma flare-up triggered by seasonal allergies (everything is blooming here in California) and fueled by anxiety.  I have some more meds now thanks to a video call with my doctor who shared how stressed he and his colleagues are and how he goes home as little as possible to protect his family.  How thankful …
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how to finish an embroidery hoop for hanging

This morning I finished my hoop ready for hanging on my gallery wall and I thought I'd share how I usually do that.  

I remove the linen from the hoop I use for actually doing the embroidery.  I use that purple plastic one as it is really sturdy and holds the fabric really taut.  The wood hoop is the same size so I simply placed the linen in the wooden hoop and tightened it up, making sure the heart was centered and the clamp was at the top because I use that to tie the ribbon or twine to for hanging.  The next step is to trim the linen and glue it to the inside of the wooden hoop as shown.  Don't use gobs of hot glue and be careful as it's hot and you'll be pressing the fabric into the glue with your fingers.  I recently found a hot glue gun on Amazon that causes less of those crazy strings and doesn't drip when it's resting, I think it was just called a "no drip" hot glue gun - it was a couple of dollars more than a regular one but I'm very happy…

embroidery for strange times

These are strange times and most of us are struggling to deal with our own new realities.  Maybe like me, you are under a "shelter in place" order or maybe you are voluntarily self isolating.  Whatever, it's likely you are living a different life right now and that can be stressful.  I'm finding it hard to concentrate for long so I'm filling my days with things that take smaller chunks of time.  I've been baking more and stitching in between other chores and activities.  

One of the things I've been working on is an embroidery pattern by @tinkerellen on Instagram.  It's a very simple pattern available in her Etsy shop for $1 and my first decision was background fabric.  I really like stitching on linen and I had these three colors.  Since I knew I'd choose bright, clean colors of floss I decided to go with the black linen.  If you don't have linen a low volume quilting cotton would work great or any plain cotton.  

I sketched the pattern freehan…

Little Felt Houses

This post follows on from my last one where I shared a little felt house I made.  Since then I've been working on some other designs.  As always making the first one of anything takes a lot of extra time.  There's the pattern to draft, the felt colors to choose and design details to work out.  

These little houses seem to have taken a long time but I'm getting faster as I work out the process.  These sweet little houses are intended for use as pincushions and are perfectly functional but I have to say, I can't quite bring myself to put them away in the box yet!  I am enjoying them on the counter in my workspace!  

This little cottage was inspired by the golden stone cottages of the Cotswolds.  There are roses growing around the front door, some on the side wall and a herb garden in the back.  Each roof tile is individually cut and stitched onto the roof.  

This is another golden stone cottage.  The Cotswolds is not the only region of England to have houses made from this …

A Creative Funk

For a while there, I was in a such a creative funk or rut.  I had no inspiration, and not the slightest motivation.  I hate feeling like that!  

One of the things I do to help myself is to clean up and/or sort out some of my supplies.  I sorted and tidied my fabric stash, being ruthless with fabrics I don't love anymore.  Then I emptied the deep drawer that has all my beads and beading tools.  I'd ordered some new beads and findings so I found the proper places for those to go and once again, sorted out the beads and other things I knew I'd never use.  It felt good!

Gradually some fresh ideas began to creep up on me.  I pulled out my sketchbook and made notes.  What I was imagining was a little felt cottage, actually a whole village of little cottages, that could be practical as pincushions or just decorative.  In my mind, this one was a little white cottage with exposed stone at the corners and a clay tile roof...with roses growing around the door, window boxes and big pots…

Today I baked

As I've said in previous posts, we mostly eat gluten free in our house.  My husband has no choice because even the tiniest big of gluten makes him sick, but I don't restrict what the kids eat.  Gluten free baking can be a depressing thing and I love to bake.  For a long time, I stopped baking much but I missed it, especially after watching the "Great British Baking Show"!    

Lately I've started making things again, inspired by two books, one that focuses on the flavors of alternative flours and the other that tackles the thorny issue of gluten free bread.  A really good loaf of bread is the Holy Grail of the gluten free world!  

I came upon this book on Amazon and after spending a bit of time on the website that works alongside the book, I purchased it.  I've only made the basic bread recipe because I feel like I'm still getting used to making it.  The basic dough recipe makes either freeform loaves or sandwich bread in a pan and I've done both.  The b…