Where Have I Been, What Have I Been Doing?

The day after Christmas, I started working on the “cow rug” seriously. I worked almost every day on it for hours. I had started it the year before at my Anaheim rug retreat, and I wanted to try to finish it to bring back and show to everyone this year.

Somehow I developed a fear of hooking the cows. So periodically I would write the goal to finish one cow. Here I put the baby on the hill above the mama.

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I am very happy with these cows. I was actually able to make it clear that there was a baby and a mama stuck together.

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This cow was my hardest. It is a Scottish Highland cow, and they have very long hair. I finally hooked it with an angora sweater that I had felted and dyed, and brushed the angora after I finished hooking it. I need to re-work the face a little. (the hair hangs over her eyes.)

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Finally I was finished with the cows and the hills, and I needed a sky. So I googled sky images and used this one as inspiration. I was very happy when I gathered my wool fabrics and realized that I had plenty of wool in the right colors for the sky.

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And here is the finished rug. Of course, its not completely finished. It needs to be blocked and have some finished touches put on it. In case you don’t remember, I chose cows from all over the world. The hills are from a picture I took of our local hills. That mountain is supposed to be Mount Zion. And the redwood trees were something that Gene (hooking teacher) and I came up with as a frame. Of course, redwood trees don’t really grow in my foothills, but they make such a nice frame, and I always think the redwoods seem like a cathedral. I used hand spun yarn and wool for the redwood leaves.

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For my next project, I became enamored of these wonderful Egyptian tapestries. Here is their website.

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I decided to do a series of these in rug hooking, displaying the life of Christ. As you can see, my drawings are quite elementary. I add stuff as I go along. I added more people, more plants, and you can see that I changed the branches from straight lines to more curvy lines. These are going to be small rugs, about 24″ tall, and probably a bit more in width. I do like that the Egyptian tapestries display plants from that area of the world, which is different than I would draw if I was using my local plants! This rug is Jesus feeding the 5000 people. Of course, I am not going to hook 5000 people ๐Ÿ™‚

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This is how much I accomplished in four days of rug hooking in Anaheim. Because these are smaller, and I want to get some details in, I am using #4 cuts, which are smaller than the #6 and #8 cuts that I usually use.

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Christmas is a Time to Finish Things!

I notice I have this pattern at Christmas. I like to finish things. So far I have knit four scarves from my handspun yarn for gifts. Not just knit them, but I blocked them too! And then I decided I had delayed finishing this Christmas quilt for too long. so I just went out there and finished the quilting. I put a binding on it, and then it needed a lot of blocking because of the embroidery in the middle. I’m not 100% sure that I accomplished what I was trying to achieve with this quilt.

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If you remember, the embroidery was done with the Cottage Threads perle cotton from Australia.

Here are some close-ups:

The lettering:

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Embroidered motifs:

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I added a little embroidery to the trees and “rocks”:

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And, I finished my Kantha blanket! The running stitches are about 1/2 inch apart. I also put two lines of turquoise thread 1/4 inch apart about every six inches, just to add some interest. The rest of the quilt was stitched with some variegated silk thread that I bought at a weaver’s convention!

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Oh, and most importantly, at Christmas time I always feel pressured to try to finish my rug that I started this past February. I would like to share it FINISHED when I go to my rug hooking thing this February, but I’m afraid there is a lot that is still unfinished. I wrote “make a cow” for three or four weeks on my weekly to-do list. Somehow I get afraid of rug hooking when I don’t do it consistently. But finally, I DID make a cow :))

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I also hooked the entire hillside behind her. It took several mornings to finish that.

If I don’t write again before Christmas, I hope everyone has a very merry and blessed Christmas.

 

Another Kantha Stitching

Do you remember this little piece that I made a few years ago?

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I decided to try to make another one, a bit larger. For both of them I made a quilt sandwich and then quilted a grid on it. Some of the design elements go through the grid, but most designs are kept inside of the grid.

When I looked at this older one from a distance, I could see that the lighter lines provided some kind of design element. So I decided to do that more purposefully on the new piece. I filled in all the lighter lines first, and then put in the brighter, darker designs. Finally, I got out my darker thread to fill in the backgrounds.

Its funny, with most anything I do, there comes a time when I am bored with it. I usually don’t put it away, but I just won’t pick it up and stitch on it for quite a while. And then one day, I pick it up again, and just keep stitching until it is finished.

To finish it, I cut one edge off at a time at about 1/4 inch, and satin stitched it with #5 perle cotton thread. (I cut one edge at a time because I didn’t want it to get frayed as I worked.)

Here is the new piece:

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And some close-ups:

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Here is a picture of the back of the piece. I hope you can see the grid that I quilted before starting the embroidery. This piece is about 14″ X 11.” The grid is just a series of squares and rectangles.

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This is a fun project. I recommend trying it. It is already quilted by the grid. So the running stitches just go through the top and the batting for the most part.

A Home Retreat

This fall I considered going on a self-retreat. I usually go up to Lake Tahoe. The prices are reasonable in the fall, and it is one of my favorite places to visit. But for some reason I really didn’t want to leave home for a week. So I decided to do a home retreat. This takes a bit of discipline and preparation. I try to cook food ahead of time so I don’t have to spend time cooking. I also make a schedule for myself, and try to stick to that schedule to accomplish what I want to do during the retreat. The purpose of this retreat was both spiritual and creative. My goal was to spend a couple of hours in the morning reading and praying, and then work on a specific project in the afternoon. The project I chose was ย what I call “the water quilt.” Remember when I dyed all that silk organza? I had the idea that it might be used to represent water. I already had a verse chosen for it. It amazes me how much I got done by limiting myself to one project for that week!

Here is the water quilt.

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After I took this picture, I washed and blocked it. This technique I learned from a collage quilt artist a long time ago. You do tight stitches around the border of each component, and then sometimes a nice velvety looking fringe appears. I thought that might add to the look of the rocks. Here are the pictures after it was washed:

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All in all, it was a very successful home retreat!

Here are a couple of other things I was doing before the retreat–I finished another quilt top, and I have been spinning quite a bit of fiber. So fun!

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I hope you all have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

Where Have I Been? What Have I Been Doing?

Well, I’ve been working away at my usual crafts. Just not taking time to blog about it. I’ll try to catch up with everything this week. But one thing I’ve been working on consistently is that big quilt that I was using a pattern for. The quilt was published in The Quilt Life magazine six years ago!

First I quilted all the churn dash blocks.

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Next I drew hundreds of pomegranate designs on the quilt and quilted them.

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Then it was time to add a couple of big rows of leaves and vines.

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And THEN there were two big rows of feathers. I also decided to put feathers all the way around the outside border. That is the only change I made in the quilt.

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And finally (even though you could see them in the previous pictures,) I started adding hundreds and thousands of bubbles to outline the pomegranates and leaves. Just about every day I would spend some time working on these. My eyes got very tired, and I asked my long arm friend about it. She said I needed to blink my eyes more!

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And then on Friday, all of a sudden, I was done with all the bubbles! Saturday I put the binding on and washed it. I am too short, so even though I was standing on a stepladder, I couldn’t get a great picture of the finished quilt. But you can get the idea. Just in time to keep me warm all winter. Its fun having a quilt that hangs over the edges of the bed more than most of my quilts do.

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I’m working on several projects (of course) and am enjoying spinning and knitting as well. I’ll post a few more times this week to try to catch up on my projects.

 

I Can’t Help Myself

One day, (before finishing the churn dash quilt or doing that darn quilt photography) I looked at a picture on my photo board. It was a pretty quilt with large swatches of fabrics, and I had written–“be more adventurous in my quilting.” I just liked that idea of using big pieces of fabric.

And…I had an ulterior motive. I needed a new kantha blanket to work on in the evenings!

So I chose some fabrics that I loved, and I started putting this quilt together. Surprise, it only took me one day to piece these big pieces of fabric together.

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I made a quilt sandwich, using Dharma Trading Company’s “harem cloth” which was a cotton gauze, and muslin for the backing.

I had bought a skein of hand dyed silk at the weaver’s convention, a similar size to #8 perle cotton. I marked lines about 6″ apart on the quilt, and kantha stitched those lines to stabilize the quilt. I don’t know if you can see it, but I decided to add two lines of perle cotton in a turquoise just for something different to do.

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Of course, I have other embroidery to get back to. But when I don’t want to think any more, a kantha blanket is the perfect project to work on!

Taking Pictures

I wanted to take some good photographs of a few quilts that I want to enter in some quilt shows. That entails getting out my super big piece of black fabric to cover the design wall so that a white quilt will show up better. This quilt is 68″ X 88″, and so I have to hang it sideways on my design wall. I was sweating by the time I got the black fabric in the right place and this quilt placed just so on the wall. After all that work, I left the quilt on the wall for a couple of days just so I could admire it as I walked by ๐Ÿ™‚

I also learned how to change the pixels in a photograph. Its just amazing what your computer can tell you how to do when you word your question correctly.

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close-up:

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Here’s a smaller quilt–so much easier! to photograph. I really like this quilt a lot. It has wording, embroidery, and beading all over it.

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close-up:

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And this third little quilt, that I photographed after I took the black fabric off the design wall.

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close-up:

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I also took the opportunity to take a nice picture of my Hallelujah! quilt while I had the black background up.

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And that’s it for my photography sessions for a while.

Tradition!!

I decided to get back to work on the big churn dash quilt. And let me say right here–if you are looking for someone to learn about traditional piecing from–ITS NOT ME. As much as I tried to do everything so carefully, I sometimes had a hard time fitting things together! I read and re-read the instructions in the magazine. Oh, hmm. This is a KING SIZED quilt! Definitely the largest quilt I have ever made. So I would say that a quilt this big is not ideal for my method of putting a quilt sandwich together (steaming the layers and then pinning.) But here I am documenting the final corner of the quilt sandwich being put together. You can see that I carefully folded the quilt as I finished each section. That was a good idea.

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And then, since it was so carefully folded, I decided to transfer it to the quilting table just like that. That also turned out to be a good idea. I have already quilted two out of the five rows of churn dash blocks. It was easier than I thought to manipulate such a large quilt.

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And then, re-reading the instructions, and staring at the picture over and over (remember, I wanted to make this quilt just like the one in the magazine…) I found a mug with a 3 inch opening, made a plastic circle template from that, and drew the pomegranate designs in the setting triangles. I free-hand drew the leaves as they were in the photograph. It was fun just following the lines to quilt this!

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I am very excited about this quilt. There will be lots of “fill” to go back and do after I get the main design done. But the quilting is moving along much faster than I expected it to!

Sauder Rug Show Report

 

The rug show at Sauder Village was absolutely wonderful. There were between 300 and 800 rugs there! I’ve limited myself to just showing you a few of the highlights. Well, the highlights for me ๐Ÿ™‚

I thought this was a wonderful piece of art. An original design by Donna Brunner from Alberta Canada. These are jack pines in her yard and she wanted to capture the sun setting behind them. She also did something unusual by stuffing the trunks and adding dimension to the piece. (Trapunto in quilting, but a lot harder in rug hooking!)

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This rug was right next to my rug. I loved all the details in it. Its done by Janice Ricker, and obviously, its her own family’s lobster company!

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This next exhibit was so fun. All the rugs were hooked by Nancy Stower and Anne Bond, and they are re-creations of original art by Vickie Sawyer.

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There was a special exhibit of braided rugs. I don’t ever plan to get into braided rugs (but you never know!) This very special exhibit of these pictorial braided rugs by a woman who did them in the 1930’s blew my mind. Just amazing artwork.

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Here’s a little article about the artist, Jessie C. Kinsley.

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And this exhibit! Brought tears to my eyes. I was able to listen to a lecture/slide show by the woman who started this cooperative. These Maya women are very poor, and in general, women are not encouraged to go to school or work. One of the stories told about a young woman whose husband made three or four dollars A DAY driving a taxi. After she learned to hook rugs, she was able to add on a little room to their house and purchase a fridge. They don’t use the traditional wool that most rug hookers use. They use t-shirts that they purchase from a thrift store! (The founder explained that places like Goodwill, after they can’t sell things in thrift stores here, and after they can’t sell them in their warehouses wholesale, they send the leftovers to impoverished countries. Isn’t it amazing that the women can still hook such vibrant rugs from the dregs of our society.)

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The story behind this rug was very touching. A young woman’s husband was diagnosed with liver cancer, with only 4-6 months to live. One day, about six weeks after the diagnosis, she was crying and said to her husband, “what am I going to do without you?” And he replied, “Don’t worry. I’ll always be with you. I’ll be on the bottom star of the Big Dipper.” The young woman was so worried that she would never remember that. And that night she dreamed of a rug. And that’s how this rug came to be!

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This tiger might have been my favorite rug in the show. It was done by Judy Carter, who has done other wonderful animal rugs. But I heard her explain that many people said they could never do what she did, because she used such small cuts (in rug hooking, small cuts are #3 and #4, which means they are 3/32″ and 4/32″.) So she did this whole rug in #8 cuts (which is 8/32″ or 1/4″ if you do the math.) The shading in it is just beautiful.

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If you are interested in learning more about rug hooking, you might purchase the magazine Rug Hooking, or buy the Celebrations book for this year Celebration of Hand Hooked Rugs 28 (I can’t find it on Amazon, it’ll probably be there in a few weeks.) Or you can go to YouTube and watch some of Gene Shepherd’s videos for free!ย 

After Ohio

Here I am in Ohio next to my quilt He Holds All Creation Together:

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Okay, I will do another post on the marvelous rug show at Sauder Village later this week. But first I have to tell you what I did when I got home.

I had left my big PEACE quilt almost finished. I needed to quilt around the big letters PEACE. So I started in on that Monday morning. It all went well, EXCEPT I changed bobbins, and put a little oil on there like I always do, and then when I started back in (AND I SWEAR THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE) an oil stain appeared with the first few stitches. EEEEEEEEEK!!! I finished the quilting and was still so enthusiastic that I spent a lot of time putting on the binding. And then it was time to soak it. Oh, but first I water sprayed all the blue lines on it, which were just direction lines to remind me where I wanted to do horizontal lines or vertical lines. And then I soaked it in COLD water. But first I put a TON of Shout stain remover on that grease stain. And to be honest, I forgot about the grease stain until just now (I checked, and its gone) because when I took the huge quilt out of the washing machine, there were red and magenta stains ALL OVER IT. I mostly used commercial fabrics in this quilt, but I used just a bit of red and magenta hand dyed fabric. And this all happened in COLD water.

At that point I swore that I would NEVER AGAIN USE HAND DYED FABRIC. And then I pulled up Vickie Walsh’s EXCELLENT directions for removing dye stains from a quilt. Bless her over and over. She made me use my bath tub, because the large quilt needs to float freely in the hot water and Dawn dish detergent. I soaked it for a couple of hours, and then drained the water, put in new hot water and soaked it overnight.

And can you believe it, all the stains are GONE!!! I am so pleased with how this quilt came out. You can see the big word PEACE, and there are 12 verses that speak about peace scattered around the quilt. Here are some of my favorites:

Do all that you can to live in PEACE with everyone.

Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

Those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace.

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I will try to get a rug show report up by Friday. There were so many beautiful rugs there, I might have to do two reports to share it with you.