Thursday, February 11, 2016

"Kitty Craft" Block for February: Challenges and Do-Overs

I've boxed myself into an even tighter corner than usual with this year's B.O.M. As always, I started with a pleasing layout plan. Because I'd had so many requests for cats,  I'd already decided to use them for the theme. Fitting the cats and other items into specific sizes and shapes of blocks is the foremost design challenge.

This month I chose to let two kittens loose in the craft room.  With one kitten up and one down, I was able to fit them into the tall, narrow block that I needed to fill. One of the kittens has crawled into the pencil pot and the other is playing with scattered pencils. A shoofly block and a set of flying geese are the companion blocks.

The Do-Over

Sometimes it takes another person to point out a flaw, and sometimes that flaw becomes so distracting that there's no choice but to start all over. The block was completely finished when a friend pointed out that my pencils were too fat or my kittens too tiny. Or both.   Here you can see the first attempt and the do-over side by side. The pencils are thinner and the kittens just a tad larger in the final block, and I can sleep better.

The Construction Challenge

Pencils. Pencils have points. Colored pencils have colored points. I didn't realize that those colored points would be a bit of a challenge until I tried to hand embroider one of them. It was awful! The embroidery floss was way too thick, and the point looked like a big colored bump on the end of the pencil. As I've said before, my hand stitching leaves a bit to be desired. 

I moved to the sewing machine, and those points came out very nicely with only four or five stitches forward and back. With either method, I definitely recommend that you practice first.

I started at the very tip of the pencil point, inserted my needle, drew up the bobbin thread, and stitched two stitches in place to secure the thread. With a long stitch (stitch length 4) I stitched forward one stitch right down the left side of the pencil.

Now comes the tricky part. You have to back stitch one stitch and finish in the very same spot where you began your stitch. I messed up several times because I had moved the fabric ever so slightly before beginning the back stitch.

After the back stitch, with the needle still in the same location, angle the needle just a bit and forward stitch one stitch. This stitch will be very close to the first, but not on top of it. Continue as with the first stitch, angling each stitch a bit more to the right and always back stitching into that very same beginning point. Four or five stitches will do it.

Not bad at all. :)

I'm thinking ahead to March. 
What should the cats be getting into next? 

Oh, my gosh! Sunday is Valentine's Day!
Have a lovely one!


  1. You are so creative, and each task done so well. Love your photographs. I wanted to leave you a note dear friend. I didn't realize you have a blog, and just found it today. You may have told me before, but I apologize that it didn't stick in my head. I will add your link to my blog, so I can read/see what you are doing. Best wishes always. Linda, a.k.a. Shoestring.

    1. Well, hello there, my friend! It's so good to hear from you, and now we have another place to visit. I meant to ask you about colored pencils on fabric. I think you were testing some out. Please tell me more about that - which pencils, how well they work, any tricks, photos, etc. I'd really like to try adding coloration to some of my pieces. Would you like to be a guest blogger on my blog? I'd be thrilled to have you here. (Just need to figure out how to make that work.) Sending happy thoughts and warm fuzzies your way!

  2. Oh my gosh Karen . . . I would love to put together something for your blog on the Inktense (Ink Pencils 24 count) by Derwent, a company from the UK. I also bought their Inktense blocks (12 pk). and plan to color up some muslin (make my own cloth on a very small scale). I've only played with them a few times. Shading and blending is really impressive. On the other side of life--I'm running against the clock, making queen size quilts for shows this summer. Finished four queen size quilts since January 1. I'll finish 5th and 6th bed quilts before the end of this month. Then I'll start building purses, baby quilts, table runners and pot holders. All of these things based on quilting fabrics. Always looking for ways to use up as many fabric scraps as possible. Last fall's purses were built using corduroy exteriors in olive, navy, tomato red. Other experiments are on my mind--as I purchased a large moth machine embroidery design a couple days ago from Urban Threads. Its a (single color) outline drawing of a massive moth stitched in black. I will play with the Inktense Pencils to color the moth on some flour sack dish towels--however I must confess I like the black outline design just as it is. I have other black outline machine embroidery designs--most of them are bugs. Too many things to play with--and not enough time. So good to connect with you again. I love your work--it is energizing.

    1. Fabulous, Linda. You have such amazing talents, and I would love to learn from you and to share your skills with my readers. My blog doesn't have a huge following, but it's growing. There are two ways I can share anything you'd like to write. One way would be to make you an editor so that you could write directly and post photos onto my page. The second option would be for you to write a post on your own blog. If you send me photos and some key quotations, I could get interest started and direct everyone to your blog. Either way would be wonderful. I'm checking into the pencils. It seem that there is a problem with colors fading and running even after having been set with a hot iron. Do you know a way to avoid that? I can't believe how busy you are! I've never know anyone else with your energy and the self-discipline it takes to have so many pots on the fire, and on top of that you've thoroughly mastered a dozen or more different skills. My goodness, girl, you are amazing. So glad to call you my friend.