Saturday, April 12, 2014

Blossoms and Books

Spring is here in Baltimore and my newly embellished sweater is in bloom....and a few of the flowers are blooming in my yard and neighborhood as well.  Yes, thanks to keeping my efforts focused this week I was able to complete this project and will be wearing it tomorrow to visit the Washington DC cherry blossoms themselves.  

Spring in bloom
Flowers were stitched to knit base then basted to the sweater neckline....looks like I won the Kentucky Derby, doesn't it?
Flower laden piece pinned to sweater before trimming and basting
Back is just as embellished as the front.
This project took longer than I anticipated.  I wanted this full, over-the-top look and that required a lot of flowers.  One of the lessons for me is to probably double how long I think any particular project will take.  I gave myself the week to work on this one but it took probably 18 hours of work to create all of these flowers, stitch them in place and baste the neckline.... and that was definitely more time than I had anticipated on Monday.  
Here are the flowers I made on the third and fourth days:
....and I still needed to make half a dozen more to fill in some gaps during assembly.

For this batch I used some wool roving that I needle felted onto a fabric base.  I used a hand needle felting tool from Clover and then my Viking needle felting machine.  Not much of a difference in the results for this project.  I love the texture and subtle color shifts from the needle felted roving, something that may not show up too well in my photographs.  
Wool roving placed on top of silk chiffon
Hand needle felting the wool roving
A new "fabric" to cut into a flower shape
Needle felting by machine onto a polyester base
Wool roving needle felted onto the pale pink polyester base fabric
After creating several needle felted bases I cut out flowers freehand and also with two of my Sizzix dies then added beads for some sparkle and contrast again.

I am happy to have this project work out as I had imagined it...and to have it out of my head and into my wardrobe.  I think it will be wonderfully festive for the start of spring.

Since I am catching up with projects that have been in my head for a while, I'd also like to catch up with my reading for the last month or so.  Our March vacation meant I had lots of time to just enjoy warm weather and great books.  In order of preference, here are the books that caught my attention:

Every bit as good as the reviews and word of mouth have said.  Can hardly wait for the book group discussion on this one in a few months.
I enjoyed this one tremendously and even did a phone in call to my March book group while I was out of town to hear what others thought.  Very touching story and quite interesting that he writes exclusively for young adults.  
So short but so enjoyable.  I have Anna Quindlen's latest book on reserve at the library but came across this little gem.  If you a reader you will probably just enjoy hearing another kindred spirit share the love of getting lost in good books.

Yes, yes, highly readable and I can understand all the hype.  Perfect vacation book.

I just love Bill Bryson's books and this was no exception.  Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, the Mississippi could he make me care about all of these topics and more?  Another winner from a wonderful non-fiction author.

Another light vacation diversion.  I read it when I was laid up for the last few days of our Florida trip with a terrible cold.  Thank you, Amy, for an entertaining read.
Oh, I so wanted to love this book.  After all, I love Jane Austen, I love Joanna Trollope....but I just have never loved the original Sense and Sensibility and a modern re-telling was even more annoying.  I may not go as far as one Amazon reviewer... I'm delighted to say I got this book free - and even then it was too expensive...but I did wonder why she wanted to update this particular novel.  I'm just annoyed that I will have to wait a while longer for her next "regular" novel.
Right now I am in the midst of Diana Gabaldon's An Echo in the Bone.  I somehow missed the news that this summer will be the start of the Outlander television series but a friend filled me in last night.  Oh, might have to re-read that one just to enjoy the whole experience again.
Speaking of television, thank you Nancy and Alison, for your suggestions about Firefox and the Acorn TV subscription idea.  I might just stop my Netflix account and change to Acorn.  We had to take one of our Apple laptops in to the Apple store yesterday.  Turns out that I put a CD into the drive and it is stuck there.  Nothing worked on our end nor could Apple people remove it....from our "vintage machine."  So we can't even download Firefox unless we buy a new computer.  But to get Hola I'm thinking that might be a good purchase this year.  As for British television, one of the terrific benefits of being back in Baltimore is access to the 24hour a day WETA UK channel which is broadcasting so many wonderful shows all the time.  Two of my very favorites are New Tricks and Hustle.  But now to get busy with an entirely different project for next week.  Mr. Lucky and I are hosting a Downton Abbey tea at our home next Saturday.  It was our church auction offering and we have a dozen guests coming that afternoon.  I am not sewing any costumes but I will be baking up many treats and will share pictures after the well as some surprises along the way.  
Here's hoping you have something fun up your sleeve in or out of your sewing room.


  1. I love the finished look as it is absolutely stunning! Enjoy wearing it. I know you'll get loads of compliments.

  2. What a lovely, lovely way to make that top super special. Enjoy the cherry blossoms in DC!

  3. Your flowers are beautiful! Thanks for the book reviews; I'm always looking for something new to read.

  4. What a beautiful top - the flowers are just adorable. As you say, a lot of work in making these.

  5. Blossoms are beautiful and on trend. I'm so anxious for spring. It's snowed in Chicago yesterday. I hope it melts soon. Enjoy your new books and cherry blossoms.

  6. You are welcoming Spring in a beautiful way. You look gorgeous in your new blossom sweater! Thanks for the book suggestions. I've read and enjoyed "The Husband's Secret". It was a great vacation book. I'm hoping your other suggestions are as entertaining. Hope your Downtown Abbey Tea went well. Happy Easter!

  7. Hej Jane,
    That looks great! I have never-worn but expensive cashmere pullover with short sleeves in rosé, it looks so plain an schoolgirl like, that's why I never wore it. I will try your dyi on that, let's see how it turns out. Thanks for the inspiration!
    xoxo Leona


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