Stupid Sewing

Stupid sewing. That’s a term my BF and I first heard on The Quilt Show. Marsha McCloskey used it to describe the sewing she did when she was too tired to work on an intensive project.

So the other day I showed you these leftover blocks that I had arranged on the design wall. Not too interesting.

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But THEN, the next day, I was having window washers come over. (This was the first time I’ve ever had this done, and I thoroughly recommend it. Even when I tried  to wash my windows, it was half-assed at best.) Anyway, I had to move things away from the windows. And that meant clearing off my sewing table 😦 And what did I find but a stack of little blocks made from my Cherrywood hand dyed scraps!

 

A wonderful session of stupid sewing ensued! I had fun rearranging these blocks. I added skinny strips of black where needed, and then I decided to add the orange zig zag through the piece. I looked around for something to make a border with, and found this Lonni Rossi print that I’ve had forever. It never seemed to work anywhere else, but I think it makes an interesting border for this piece.

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Heading out to the studio now to make a quilt sandwich and then stitch in the ditch around all the little pieces.

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Back from Cambria, and What Did I Do?

I had a wonderful time at Cambria Pines Rug Camp. I did bring my blank linen canvas for the rug. Its only a 24″ square rug. I try to vary my large rugs with smaller rugs. I kept looking at my inspiration photos, and decided that I did want the large circle in my rug, so I started with that. And then I added some of my own motifs from a few sketches that I had done. I’m very happy with what I was able to accomplish in four days.

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When I came home, I had so many other things to take care of, there was very little time to get into the studio. But I was looking at a blog, and I saw this picture.

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I didn’t even know what it was, but I just had the urge to recreate it. So I printed out a copy of the picture and then went through my hand dyed stash to pick out similar colors. For a week I just spent time cutting out rectangles during any little bits of time I had available. And then I finally started assembling them on my design wall. While I was doing this, I kept wondering what this was actually a picture of. So I went back to the blog where I’d found it, and believe it or not, these are garage doors in Lithuania!

At first I couldn’t figure it out. But I went to the photographer’s site, and I think these garage doors are pieced together in a photo. Any which way, I was fascinated by it. I thought about putting in the black and white bits between the doors, but decided against it. I am thinking about embroidering in all the wear lines. And here is what I came up with.

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Okay, so I didn’t realize until I was putting this blog post together that I had turned the photograph upside down when I started assembling it. Of course, I can turn it so the blue is on the top, but I kind of like it this way.

I had leftover rectangles, so I decided to try to make a composition myself. I found that my natural inclination is to put pieces on a diagonal. So I kept playing with it and eliminating most of the diagonals. But in the leftovers, there weren’t as many colors, so I’m not sure its worthy. Just leaving it on the design wall for now.

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Barb asked an interesting question on my other blog:

Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in hobbies and projects. I’m making quilts, crocheting a scrap- using throw, embroidering, mini weaving, knitting socks, making fabric jewelry, etc etc etc….Do you ever want to throw up your hands or just sit and stare at the piles of projects?

I do have a lot of projects going at one time. But I like that. Before I had carpal tunnel surgery, I knew it was really important to use my hands in different ways, and not just keep repeating the same movements. So that’s how I justified having so many different types of projects going. And sometimes I do get overwhelmed with the projects, so that’s when I very neatly put a project into a project box and put it back into the closet. This week, Barb, when I had so many other things to do, there were a few evenings when I did just sit and stare at my projects. But for the most part, I enjoy knitting or hand stitching in the evenings. If I can’t get into the studio in the morning, most days I’m not going to get much done out there. So I really try to plan my day that way. But last week and this week I have an unusual number of appointments and obligations, so I have resigned myself to not getting much done. Working on that small colorful project that I was basically copying was just right.

Final Finishes!

Here are some final finishes on some projects that have been around for quite a while.

A number of years ago I went back to Vermont for a workshop with Judy Dales. Her work is so beautiful. I learned her techniques and made this little piece. And then I lost it for many years. I found it again recently and decided I needed to make it into a quilt sandwich and finish it completely. Not how I originally planned, but I think it looks better on the diagonal.

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I made these next four little trees about three years ago on a vacation in Sisters. I saw a tree pattern somewhere, and decided I could do that myself. I made one tree for each season. All done using my no-fusible zig zag technique. I liked these little trees and they were hanging in my dining room for quite a while. But they weren’t really quilted enough, and I kept thinking that I wanted to add the words from Psalm 1 onto them. so I added a little embroidery, added some fall leaves, and embroidered the words on. Then I added the straight line quilting to the background of each one. And I even put a sleeve on each of them! Now they are REALLY finished!

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Rug camp is coming up. That means I really had to finish a rug! Here is the owl rug, all blocked and with a whipped edge on it.

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I’m looking forward to rug camp. I’ll be back with a report of what I’ve done at camp. I am going with a blank canvas and planning to draw an Aboriginal style piece as I go along.

Equipment and Distraction

One thing most crafters have in common is a love of new equipment. Especially if it is equipment that can make life easier for you. I enjoy turning a skein of yarn into a nice ball of yarn. But holding it over my knees is not that fun. My rug hooking friend told me about this table top swift that he found on eBay. So of course I had to check it out. The only swifts I had ever seen were ones that clamp onto something, which is sometimes not so convenient. I love this table top swift. It holds the yarn nicely, and when you are done, it folds up and doesn’t take up much room.

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And then… And then I decided to bring my spinning wheel back into the house… Oh my. There’s the Distraction. Spinning your own yarn is so fun, and so pleasurable. After I brought it in, nothing but spinning got done for almost two weeks.

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I found some variegated green roving that would work well for the redwood trees on my current rug, and I spun that up. To make a balanced yarn, you usually spin up two bobbins of thread and then ply them together, and voila!

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You have a beautiful skein of yarn.

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Here’s how I’m incorporating it into the rug. I like the way it looks.

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And then… then I found about 8 ounces of a fiber blend I made long ago. I used to make fiber blends and sell them at spinning and weaving events. I called this one Apple Blossoms. It is 40% angora (rabbit,) 30% silk, and 30% merino wool. Its oh so soft, and it brings back such good memories for me.

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So now I’ve got the spinning bug out of me for a wee bit, and I am back to working on my rug. There’s only a few weeks before Cambria Pines Rug Camp, and I want to get more of it done before I go. Because at rug camp I will be starting an entirely new rug!

In the next two weeks, I am hoping to get back in the studio to do a bit of quilting and piecing, and also, I want to dye some wool and silk before I leave for camp. After camp I have big plans to make a fiber blend and get to spinning that. I’m sure you’ll hear more about that in the next few months 🙂

Tradition!

I’ve taken a little detour. I have saved a pattern from a magazine for SIX YEARS! I love everything about this pattern. I love the colors, the way it is quilted, the blocks used, and the way they are arranged in the quilt. So, finally, I decided the time had come to make this quilt. Most of the blocks are churn dash blocks, with a few hunter’s star blocks added. The pattern was featured in The Quilt Life magazine, June 2012, in case you still have that issue and want to see it.

So far I’ve made 25 blocks (37 are needed.) It will be a large quilt, and will be a really nice bed quilt for me. Some of the blocks are made so that the churn dash pattern is not as apparent on purpose.

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I finished the entrelac blanket!

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And I got myself a little income tax return gift 🙂 I thought about this for a long time. Did I want to make my own blend and spin the yarn for a big project, or did I just want to buy some nice yarn? For now, buying yarn won out. I’m still hoping to get back to making some fiber blends and spinning my own yarn.

I found this company, and I really love everything about them. They source fibers from animals that are treated humanely! The yarn is superfine merino, merino/angora blend, and merino/cashmere blend. The colors are so pretty,  and I was so impressed with their customer service. The company is Sunday Knits.

Look how pretty the package was when it arrived (it arrived from the east coast only five days after I ordered it!

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This kit is for the wind feather shawl. The pattern is written really well.

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So that’s what I’ve been working on lately. I have a long list of things I hope to accomplish in the next two weeks, so I’d best get back to work in the studio!

Catching Up

Posting on Instagram has been fun. Its easy to take a picture at the end of the day and write a sentence or two about what you’ve been doing. So here’s what I’ve been doing since my last post. My Instagram name is debbyschnabel.

I finished another kantha blanket. This is one I pieced last fall just before I went to Art Quilt Tahoe. I really liked the central tree panel, and just chose some nice fabrics to go along with it. Still needs to be washed and blocked a bit.

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Taking a break from embroidering on the Wonderful Counselor quilt. Considering next steps. I think I still need some embroidery in there between the words. And maybe some embroidery in the borders, although I do plan to machine quilt most of the borders.

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Close-up of the words. You can see I used the blue disappearing ink quite a bit on this quilt. I did a sample to make sure the ink would come out before I used it on this radiance fabric (hand dyed 50/50 cotton/silk)

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Close-ups of some of the embroidery:

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I started working consistently on the big PEACE quilt. While it was still on the design wall, I chose 12 spots to put verses and marked those spots with the blue disappearing ink, and chose 12 verses about peace. Its been fun to choose a verse, write it in the spot, and get it embroidered on there. I am hoping that this will be the next quilt I machine quilt.

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Right now this quilt is under the Juki. I am taking my time and trying to quilt it nicely. I made it a long time ago, and I still like it.

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I got it into my head that I should do another sample quilt from the quilt kits I put together. So fun to make small pieces like this. The small pink triangles are actually the leftover pieces from cutting out the big pink circle! I am teaching Quilted Embroidery at the Cotton Patch on April 21. 

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And since I finished my kantha blanket and am taking a break from the Wonderful Counselor embroidery, I needed something to work on. Out came the big mitered square blanket. I laid it out on my bed and marked how much larger I want it to be, so at least I now have an ending place in mind. Still a lot to do on it. I’m using bits and pieces of leftover yarns and some of my old handspun yarn too.

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Sunday my sister called and asked if I had ever made a jelly roll quilt. Well, once I made a top using hand cut strips, basically the same as a jelly roll. As I talked with her about the math and how to do it, I remembered I had a project box with some leftover strips in it–leftover from the big PEACE quilt. They were cut 1/2 inch finished and 1 1/2 inch finished. Most of the 1/2 inch strips were brights and darks. Most of the 1 1/2 inch strips were neutrals. So I started sewing those together. I couldn’t believe it when I sewed the narrow and wider strips together–they were exactly the same length! So then I did a little math, and realized that there still was not enough for a decent sized quilt. I did some more math, and decided that if I would make some 3 inch finished strips, that would make the quilt big enough. For the 3 inch strips, I used both neutral and bright fabrics. I sewed everything together without planning. And when I finally finished, and threw it on my bed, I was really pleased with how pretty it was. Now I’m just thinking about how to quilt it.

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Speaking of quilting, one thing I have been doing lately, is going to Joann’s when they have a sale on (haha, when do they NOT have a sale on,) and buying four or more yards of one fabric so that I have quilt backs for my never-ending box of quilt tops that I have not finished. Since I don’t seem to be too good at selling, I have enjoyed finding places to donate quilts for people that might enjoy them. A young couple I met are working with Afghan refugees that are coming to Sacramento. I told them I could send some quilts to them.

I hope all of you are enjoying your creative time. Just working consistently every day it is surprising how much you can accomplish.

 

Teaching!

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I will be teaching my Embroidered Quilting class at The Cotton Patch in Lafayette! The Cotton Patch must be one of the oldest quilting shops in California–it was started in 1978! I am so excited and honored to be teaching there. The class is on Saturday April 21, from 10 am to 5 pm.

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I teach the basic embroidery stitches that I use, and variations of all of them. If there’s time I talk about writing on quilts and the methods I use for various forms of writing.

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The kit I provide has more than enough materials to make this project–this was a challenge to myself to use a kit that had colors I don’t like to make a little composition that I did like.

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Instagram!

Hi all. I am trying out Instagram. I thought it might be fun to add a picture of what I work on each day. So far I have shared these two pictures.

My big PEACE quilt:

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And my “cow rug.” I’m very excited about the changes I’ve made on this rug. I added large lettering, eliminated the field (there will be hills in the background behind the lettering.) I plan to add more cows and also need to add in the greenery to the redwood tree borders.

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My instagram label is debbyschnabel.

Finishing Stuff

Doesn’t it feel great to finish a project? Especially a project that you have neglected, and in fact despaired of actually finishing? That was the owl rug. I started it as a challenge to myself to work with a limited color palette. But I got very tired of that limited color palette. And then my knee surgery and more interesting and colorful quilt projects got in the way. And the poor owl languished for many many months.

Then it was time for the Anaheim rug retreat. So just to make sure I still remembered how to hook, I got out the owl. And I worked on it for a few days before Anaheim. When I got home, I thought, maybe I’ll finish that owl before I start in on my cows again. And what do you know? I enjoyed working on it and finished it in just a few days of consistent rug hooking!

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The beak was a huge problem for me. The way I had hooked it reminded me of a snowman’s carrot nose. So I kept looking at owl pictures. And realized that the beak was simply too long. I used a method Gene had shown me, and hand cut a piece of wool from fairly wide to narrow (basically an elongated triangle.) I am very happy with how it turned out. And I also made the decision to use just a bit of color for the beak. I used the leftovers from the hand cut beak to make his two claws that were showing.

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Anyway, it just made me feel great to finish that (I still have to do the actual steaming and finishing but that is just grunt work.) To celebrate, I took the next day off and did some fun stuff, like working in the garden and experimenting with a new finishing technique for small quilts.

Rug Report

I had a wonderful week in Anaheim, doing all things rug hooking! The very first day I got a good start and was off and hooking. Because I had questions. I didn’t know how to differentiate one hill from another, and I wasn’t sure whether to hook the cow or the hill first. Well, Gene (the teacher) suggested I go through my stack of wool, and designate certain colors for certain hills. Yes! That was what I needed to do. My hills will go from dark in the back to light in the front (which is the opposite of what Gene usually suggests, but is what my picture looked like to me.) I also had to make sure that there was enough contrast between the hill color and the cow that was on that hill. I am working that out as I go. I borrowed 10 plastic bags from Gene, and put each hill’s color in one bag with a number on it. You can see here that I numbered each hill.

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And then it was time to work on the cows. That takes me a LOT longer than working on the hills. A lot of anxiety and uncertainty. And then I just do it! And if it doesn’t look right, I re-do it. The animals are small, and the wool is relatively large, so you have to do things just so to get enough details that the animals are identifiable. Here is a closer picture of what I accomplished by the end of the week:

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During the week, I thought about my design a lot. I decided to eliminate the wolf and the mice, and make it just about God and the cows (“He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.”) And when I told Gene that, there was a lot of discussion about wording and borders. And I like the idea we came up with–the wording will be included in the design, and I might use redwood trees to make the border. I drew a sketch this morning, and I liked it.

On the last morning before class, I checked my email. And I got a most exciting letter–my rug, “He Holds All Creation Together” was chosen to be included in the Celebrations of Hand Hooked Rugs. There is only one big rug hooking contest in this country, so it is an honor to be included. I worked hard on that rug, and I do love it. Its so exciting that it will be included in the Celebrations book, and will also be displayed at Sauder Village in August, at a big rug hooking gathering.

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