Unreal

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Unreal is the only word to describe my experience at Quilting in the Garden at the Alden Lane Nursery in Livermore! More than I could ever have imagined. I have attended Quilting in the Garden, so I knew it was a well attended quilt show. But the personal experience was so much more than my observation.

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My Kantha blanket (number 128) at the entrance display.

Thursday morning I dropped off about forty of my quilts. Cyndee Carvalho is the coordinator of Quilting in the Garden, and she is quite an artist herself. She had looked at all my quilts online, and created a backdrop and a vision for how the quilts would be displayed.

I arrived early Friday morning to teach, so I had plenty of time to go and check out my quilt display in the greenhouse. Cyndee had grouped my quilts so well, and added parasols and the HAND DYED clothespin circles to enhance the circles that I love to use in my quilts. The backdrop was painted in a color to enhance my quilts!

This is what I saw coming through the front door of the greenhouse.

 

 

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Saturday I arrived bright and early. I loved getting there early. It gave me plenty of time to prepare myself and be relaxed before people started arriving. There were so many people! At one point on Saturday morning, I looked up, and the entire room was just FILLED with people! Cyndee came by a few minutes later and said that 250 people per hour were coming through the nursery’s front entrance!

Here are some more pictures of the display wall.

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And then many of the quilts were hung at various heights from bamboo stakes (perfect for a nursery display!) I wanted people to be able to see the stitching up close, and was so happy that all the quilts were at the perfect level.

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So many people came, and spent time looking closely at the quilts and the stitching and the wording. Many read the descriptive tags that I had written for each one. So many people commented that they enjoyed the message, and that the entire room had a calming effect on them. I loved chatting with the people about my process and inspirations for the quilts.

This was the perfect place to display the Hallelujah! quilt. The filtered sun came through those windows and it glowed.

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You can see the corner of the table that they put there for me. I had some of my very small quilt samples on the table as well as a few small quilts for sale, and some of the embroidery kits that I assemble for my class. And, I had some room to sit and stitch too!

The other Kantha blanket and The Fire Quilt.

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By Saturday morning, they had artistically placed lots of plants around the greenhouse.

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Since this was at a nursery, and my garden has been greatly influenced by this nursery, I brought my two garden quilts and had a bunch of 8X10 photos made of my garden. Cyndee displayed all the photos I brought, and that was so fun to share with the gardeners who came through the exhibit.

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The first Housetop quilt:

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His Kingdom Will Never End was displayed to the right of the entrance door.

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I know that this will probably be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. To be able to share so many of my quilts at one time, and to be able to interact with the people who are viewing them–it was…unreal!

Since this is an outdoor show, all the quilts have to be raised each morning and taken down each night! They have an army of volunteers to hold the quilts as they are raised by a pulley into the air!

Early in the morning:

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I had a number of inquiries about teaching, and so maybe I will be teaching my Quilted Embroidery a little bit more in the future. I haven’t talked about my Friday class experience. I will just say that there were 23 students, and it seemed that they enjoyed the class. I provided a blank quilt sandwich, and 3 pieces of hand dyed fabric, as well as 20 colors of thread. I was happy to see that many of them had their own ideas, and made designs other than my favorite circles! I had lots of sample mini quilts and ideas for them to see. And then they were off to create their own quilt. During the day I demo’d the various stitches for small groups to see. One of these days maybe I’ll remember to take pictures at my class.

 

 

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Finally, I’m Beading!

Finally. I did what I knew I needed to do in order to start beading. I needed a designated place to put all my beading materials and be able to keep it out for a while. My cutting table/desk is perfect. I knew I was at a good stopping place (not making any new quilts or quilt sandwiches for a bit) and so I set up my beading station.

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After adding a few beads to the last quilt I showed you, I knew I wanted to work on a quilt that was more about the beading than the embroidery. I had “finished” this quilt a while ago. But while I actually had planned to do beading and/or embroidery in each of the fabric tiles on this quilt, all I got done was some background beading. It was the perfect project to start on.

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I have several books that I refer to (Robin Atkins book and her brother Tom Atkins book) and I just started in working on each tile. I don’t really know what I’m doing, but its pretty fun. Beading actually goes faster than embroidery, and it is pretty easy on the hands too.

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There were 54 tiles in this quilt. I am down to the last 12, and so I hope to have this completed to share at Quilting in the Garden. Hope to see you there!

Another Finish

This was a quilt blank that I made before my surgery. I had visions of some glorious embroidery covering the entire quilt. Unfortunately, following my surgery, I didn’t seem able to make even one decision on where and how to stitch.

Then one day, in a link from someone’s blog, I heard a well-known artist say that you would never  be able to recreate the vision that was in your head. Ha. Yes, that sounds very familiar. I ended up embroidering this piece pretty much the same way I stitch most pieces. Still, I am pleased with it.

I didn’t create it with “light” being the theme of the piece, but that seemed an obvious choice as I went along. I used Bible Gateway to search “light” in the New Testament, and picked out some of my favorite verses. I did have a new idea of filling the “frame” of this piece with these verses, and using the most familiar verse “I Am the Light of the World” as the header.

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After it was all done, and bound and washed, I decided to try adding some beads to it.

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What’s Happening!

Well, sorry I haven’t written for a while. My excuse is that I did not enjoy sitting at my desk with my knee dangling. And, I got distracted with other things 🙂

In just a few weeks I will be teaching Quilted Embroidery at Quilting in the Garden at Alden Lane Nursery. And, I am the guest artist, so I will have an exhibit of my quilts in their beautiful greenhouse! I was so excited when I talked to Cyndee and found that my class was full. So I have been busy putting kits together, and then going through my quilts organizing which ones I want to take for the exhibit. Checking to see if I need to make sleeves for any of them (yes, I do 😦 ). And then working on trying to finish up some smaller pieces.

Here’s what I finished this weekend:

Pink is Pink:

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Close-ups:

I experimented with different fabrics and threads in this piece.

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The circle is wool. Some of the thread is silk, the rest is perle cotton.

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I tried fabric weaving in a couple of the blocks.

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My Guide:

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The verse  says, “He is my God forever and ever and He will guide me until I die.”

Close-ups:

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This was a little experimental piece I started a LONG time ago. It was just from a doodle in my journal. And then I got tired of it/started new projects/forgot about it/took it out and was uninspired to finish it… And then I decided it was too pretty to leave it unfinished.

I hope if you’re in the area you will come to Quilting in the Garden! Its a wonderful show in a beautiful garden, and there are some great classes offered along with the show.

Recovery and Creativity

Well, here I am, three weeks post-op already! If you want to read more details about my knee replacement surgery, you can check my other blog. I’m writing several posts detailing my experience in case it might be helpful for someone else considering knee replacement surgery. For the most part, it has all been so much better than I had heard from other people, and I am so grateful for that. The doctor did not know before he actually started the surgery, but it turned out that I only needed a partial knee replacement. Such good news for me in the recovery room!

I thought I’d share here about my creativity (or lack of it!) during my recovery time. You might remember that I was all prepared with four neatly arranged projects for me to choose from while I recuperated. Well, it turns out, none of them worked for me. I didn’t like beading in my lap, and I’d take the other projects out of their boxes and just stare at them. It was too hard to make a decision about where to start, or what color thread to use.

My best friend was here, and she tried to encourage me with various ideas. She had brought practically her whole studio with her 🙂  One of the things she brought was her AccuCut machine. She suggested using a charm pack that she had bought (and that I had admired,) and using that along with some of my reproduction fabrics to make a hexagon quilt. It turns out, that was just what I needed. I like sewing those big hexagons together. And of course, I love choosing fabrics for a new quilt.  Choosing which hexagon to sew to the next hexagon didn’t tax my brain too much.

Here’s the beginning of my fabric choices (you can see the charm pack in there–brighter colors than the rest):

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And here it is in progress:

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After a while, the only way I know to figure out how a hexagon quilt is progressing is to lay it out and then sew a chain of hexis in a straight line so you will know where the edge is supposed to be.

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And here, after 2 1/2 weeks of recovery, which included a lot of exercise, a lot of naps, and a lot of sitting, sewing, and TV watching, is the finished quilt top. It measures 50X70 inches. It will be a nice lap quilt for someone.

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This week I have done little bits of sewing on my machine, and even a bit of quilting on the Juki. I still don’t enjoy letting my leg hang down, so have kept those sessions short. I was finally able to start embroidering on one of the projects I had pre-prepared, and soon I will clear off my cutting table/desk and set up a beading station. I am determined to work on my beading!

An Unexpected Finish

As I stitched on various projects in the evening, I started to realize that I was close to finishing one quilt. So I started to concentrate on stitching on that one. Maybe I could finish one more project before surgery!

And sure enough, on Friday evening, I took the last stitch. I don’t usually quilt on Saturday, but I couldn’t resist applying the binding in the morning, and then when I returned from the gym in the afternoon, I set to work hand stitching the binding down. I rarely hand stitch binding any more, but I figured with all the handwork on this quilt, it deserved it. And besides, I really enjoyed working on this quilt, and it just extended the joy for one more day.

Which quilt is it? Its the second Kantha blanket. On this one, because of all the different blocks and seams, I decided to stitch each block, in the hopes of avoiding most of the seams. The pattern is so busy that I don’t think the different stitching makes a  big difference in the  overall appearance of the quilt.

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I used DMC Coton Floche for the stitching, and it was wonderful to stitch with, but a bit more frail than perle cotton, and also I noticed that it pulled more easily when, ahem, little doggies’ toenails got caught in the thread….  I used a nice thin cotton batting, and muslin for the backing, so again, it was extremely pleasant to stitch. I am sure I will do another one of these, perhaps with a less busy pattern, and maybe I can do more variation with the direction of the stitching.

Some close-ups so you can see the different direction of the stitching.

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And this will probably be my last post for a while. I have four project boxes all ready for my post-op period! Hopefully I’ll have plenty to share with you by the time I feel up to blogging again!

Some Different Edge Treatments

Lately I’ve been trying different ways to finish the edges of my quilts. Especially since these two are full of handwork, it seemed fitting to do a more rustic edge. The first you have seen–I named it Worlds Within Worlds. Many years ago I thought about this–how you can live for a long time and never know that there is a whole “world” out there that you never knew existed. Like, for example, the world of angora rabbits and showing angora rabbits. I did that for a while, because I was a spinner/knitter at the time. Did you know this world existed? Heck, I didn’t even know there was a whole world of spinning out there, with conventions and everything, much less the crazy world of English Angora show rabbits!

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A real live English Angora show rabbit!

To bring it closer to home, we all know that the majority of people do not know about the big world of art quilts OR the world of show quilts. When you say you are a quilter, they only see what they know–bed quilts, usually grandma’s flower garden quilts 🙂

Here is the quilt Worlds Within Worlds with a hand-satin stitch edging using #5 perle cotton. I have to laugh at myself when I say I won’t do binding by hand because it takes too long, but I was perfectly willing to sit for several days doing this edging.

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Close-up of the edge:

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The next quilt you have also seen. It just sat sadly on my sewing table for months, waiting to be finished. Truth was, I didn’t know how I wanted to finish it. Then I noticed a small quilt I had done a long time ago, with a fringed edge. That seemed perfect for this very rustic cloth. And since it is all white around the edge, I wanted to make a quilted backing for it. I looked through my blue fabrics, and this bright dark blue was my favorite. I haven’t finished the quilting the blue, but wanted to share with you anyway.

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Here’s how I did the fringed edging. Measure and cut the quilt to the size desired. Sew two lines closely together around the edge (about 1/8 inch apart.)

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Carefully cut out the batting close to your sewn line.

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With little scissors, cut fringe on the bottom layer (for reference, that bottom layer is muslin.)

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Then take your fingernail and run it both ways along that fringed edge to make it fringier 🙂

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Lastly, since this was a homespun type of fabric, I pulled the threads to make the top fringe. If the top had been made of regular fabric, I could have just cut it at the same time I cut the bottom, and done the same with the fingernail.

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As my surgery date approaches I find myself starting new projects and working on finishing old. But I am distracted, so I’m afraid not much will get done in the next week or so. I started a new scarf/shawl, using some of my handspun yarn that is so beautiful–a blend of merino wool, bombyx silk, and cashmere. And I made myself a bead project kit, using Robin Atkin’s excellent book: Heart to Hands Bead Embroidery. I am hoping that it will be a good project for my post-op healing time.

 

Two Finishes

Still working through that box of unfinished quilt tops! Who remembers French Braid quilts?! That was the next top I pulled out. I remember when my friend and I worked on our French Braid quilts together. In my opinion, it is a difficult pattern to follow. I did not enjoy that part of it, but I did enjoy choosing all the beautiful fabrics and arranging them just so. My BF really loved making the French Braid quilt, and she went on to innovate and make a Christmas Tree skirt out of the French Braid pattern–it was included in the second French Braid book!!

I had carefully folded some extra fabric with this top. The top was long and narrow, and I think I had a plan to make side borders. This probably wasn’t my original plan, but it got the job done. After looking at quilting ideas online, I decided that stitch in the ditch was the very best for this quilt–it didn’t detract from the beautiful prints. That made the quilting go very quickly.

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The next was a little 48″ square improv piece that I made to use up a lot of light and dark strips that I had pre-cut for some other project. You can see I used some of my two inch squares, and I also chose a “feature fabric”–that blue with green print. It will make a nice lap or wheelchair quilt for someone. I decided to stitch about 1/4 inch from the edge of each strip. This was also fun and easy to quilt.

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A word about backing choices: for the french braid quilt, I chose three different solid greens to make the back. Many times I will piece a back out of different fabrics, so that doesn’t bother me. But using those solid color fabrics, when my thread was an off-white? Not so much–all my little wobbles and back stitching show up very well. In contrast, I chose a taupe print for the improv piece. It was a very good quality fabric, but not one I particularly liked. And it is a PERFECT backing fabric! Goes well with the neutrals on the front, and the print is just enough that the quilting is not distracting on the back.

Lots of handwork continues in the in-between times. I’ll have more to share next week.

A Mystery

On Sunday I doodled this in my journal:

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Do all of you have a box of two inch squares? I love my box, and it has come in handy so many times. Truth is, I have so many two inch squares, I now have two boxes of them. Whenever I get to the end of a project and there are good scraps left, I cut them into two inch squares. When I cut the excess backing fabric off of a finished quilt, more two inch squares.

Okay, so choosing the path of least resistance (pre-cut pieces, and sitting in my easy chair) I chose to try doing this by hand stitching with the box of two inch squares. Each cross takes 5 two inch squares. I found quickly that the easiest way to keep from being confused was to stitch the crosses, and THEN join them.

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When I have done single motif hand stitched quilts in the past (hexagons and diamonds) I have always joined a certain amount and then started another piece, simply because it was easier to handle smaller pieces of fabric. So that’s what I did here.

And I found that there is NO WAY to join these pieces without leaving one or two block empty spots. There’s got to be some mathematical reason for this…

Now you can see in my doodles, that I actually drew the crosses with spaces in between them. I also took some graph paper last night and tried to figure out what the problem is. It is actually hard to DRAW the crosses without leaving empty spaces between them. It is not hard to sew them together without empty spaces.

For now, it is an experiment (albeit an experiment that I have spent a good part of the week on.) I could choose to leave spaces on purpose (that I could easily fill in with more two inch squares.) Or I can just work on joining them together into one continuous quilt. I do like them joined the way I have them now. If any of you want to try this, I can tell you that it seems that to be joined without “spaces,” you either need to join 3 or 6 sides, if that makes sense.

 

Something Old, Something New

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Something old: I washed an older quilt and put it on my bed to fold it up, and thought I would share it with you. I call this quilt “I Live in Pine Grove.” I do live in Pine Grove, and at the time I made this quilt there was a lot of different fabric with pine trees and pine branches and pine needles on it. I had so much fun collecting all the different pine fabrics. I had just a few fabrics with birds on them, and I made all the blocks and then had fun fitting them together. I hand quilted it. And it is still a quilt that I like very much.

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A new finish: After agonizing over each area–should I add more stitching here? What about this area? How should I do the background? I finally just took the plunge, and finished all the stitching on this quilt. My BF was here for a one day visit, and she asked if I had considered turning it sideways. I hadn’t, but the more I looked at it that way, the more I thought that was the way it should be!

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I wanted to wash it before I blocked it and finished the edge, so I zigzagged around the edge and washed it very gently. And then blocked it on my design wall. I thought about how I wanted to finish the edge, and I decided that I want to do a hand-finished edge. I will do a satin stitch with perle cotton all around the edge. I am going to use the ecru thread that I used for the background. It is busy enough–no need to add any more color to it.

After I cut the edges to their final size, I stitched very carefully around the edge, just to keep it nice and neat while I hand stitch the edge.

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I did enjoy using chain stitch to color in some of the solid areas. Close-up of stitching:

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Something new: And then I wanted to play and make another small quilt to embroider. I LOVE the piece that I used for the What They Said series:

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And so I chose some new fabrics, and made the same block, only larger. Starting with one background fabric, you cut and insert strips and then a circle and then more strips, etc. Very fun to do. I want to explore this more!

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Of course now that I’ve got it done and the sandwich made and basted and all, its like I get all shy, and I don’t know how I want to stitch it! But I’ll just think about it for a bit. That’s part of the fun, isn’t it?