This Week’s Work

I finished the stitching on this piece, inspired by the verse “every good thing given comes down to us from God our Father who created all the lights in the heavens.” I truly enjoyed every stitch.

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And in between, I continued to work on machine quilting P.I.N.K. I decided I could do each block differently. It keeps it from being boring. Only 6 more blocks to go!

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Most of my time was spent making all of these blocks. I used up just about all of my Cherrywood fabrics, so that is as big as I can make it. I picked out a background color, and I am now just thinking about how I want to put all these different sized blocks together, and how much or how little background I want to have showing.

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And I just finished putting a sleeve on the back of this quilt. I got a call last week from a lady who had seen my exhibit at the Oak Hills Church. She was interested in having me make a quilt for them to use when they have a worship service at the nursing home they visit each Sunday. I offered to let her borrow a quilt indefinitely, and they chose this one. I am always happy to share my quilts and have them seen by others. If your group or church is interested in displaying some of my quilts, please contact me.

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Several other projects are just waiting their turn, so I am sure next week will be another busy one in the studio. Just the way I like it!

Inspiration Everywhere

Recently some men from my church came back from a visit to Papua, New Guinea. The area they visit is quite primitive, and the people are extremely poor. And yet. They can create these beautiful geometric designs on their handmade barkcloth. I am always inspired by people who can create beauty with just what little they have. That is why I love kantha stitching and the Gees Bend quilters.

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Of course, I am always inspired by gardens. Recently I made this bouquet, and posted it on my other blog. Someone remarked that it was an inspiration for a new quilt. I love the quiet colors in it. But notice the unexpected colors. That coral-apricot color may be the unexpected spark that a quilt needs. Or maybe its that blue in the quilt below. I’m pretty sure its NOT the red in the quilt :)

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This past weekend I took a quick trip to the Bay Area. The regional SAQA meeting was held at the house of Judith Content, and the topic was “What Inspires You?” Well, many times what inspires me is hearing about what inspires other artists. Judith has been a textile artist for many years, and her house was certainly an inspiration to me.

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It seemed that every wall was a different color and texture! So fun.

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Even her garden was artful. Imagine having that lovely huge lemon tree!

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Oh, I especially LOVED these colorful decorated spools. Don’t you just want to make one right now?!

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Back in my hotel room, I had time to work on a new idea project, inspired by my Sunday morning journal doodling. I had drawn these three simple “cross” shapes. I am making them without ruler or measuring. What I noticed here, though, was that I liked the pale gold floor as a background, and also as a resting place for all that patterning. I think I will keep that in mind when I start trying to put all these different sized squares together. BTW, I’m using my packets of Cherrywood fabrics for these. I love their colors (not any that I would come up with on my own,) and the texture of their fabric.

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The next day I took my mom to a new-to-us nursery, Annie’s Annuals and Perennials. Oh. My. Goodness. Color and inspiration everywhere. I wrote more about it on my other blog.

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Look around. There is inspiration everywhere. You just have to be looking for it.

P.I.N.K.

Thanks to BF, this quilt will forever be named P.I.N.K.

After sewing this top together, I spent almost a week pondering various ways of enlarging it via more sashing/various borders. Also in the pondering were my thoughts (negative) on sewing together large expanses of fabric, and my thoughts (negative) on quilting large quilt tops vs. my need for a larger quilt if I wanted it as a bed quilt. In the end, I decided I liked this quilt just as it was, and that I did not actually need another bed quilt right now. I love this quilt, and I know it will be my favorite large lap quilt to snuggle under this winter (if I ever get that cold again.)

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Can you see the square with the pale blue background, and the lady walking a dachshund and a Standard Poodle? That was one of my scrub tops. I loved it because at the time, those were the two breeds of dogs that I owned!

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I wanted to make it into a sandwich right away. I had a piece of extra wide muslin that would be just right. However, after laying it out, it just looked like a huge white sheet (it was bleached muslin.) Too new for this somewhat old fashioned looking quilt. I found another piece of muslin that was “tea stained.” JUST RIGHT. I measured it, and had three yards. I spent all night trying to figure out how three yards could be reconfigured to use for the backing. It was just not enough, no matter which way I turned it. The next morning, BEFORE I went to church, I hit up Joann’s, where they just happened to be having a big sale on muslin, and bought two yards of the same tea stained muslin, and was SO PLEASED with myself. Got home to find that the original piece was five yards?! What the what?? Oh well… NOW I have three yards of the stuff for the next project…

Made my sandwich, and yesterday I wanted to start quilting it. But first I had to play around with what thread to use. It just so happened that I had a bit of batting and muslin in the circular file :), and a LOT of leftover squares and half square triangles from the quilt. I tried out different weights and colors of thread. In the end, I liked my first choice, which says its color is “natural.” But it is a glazed cotton, and I don’t think that that will be very pleasant to sew with. I don’t like the tension/unevenness of the stitches. So I went with the second best, and quilted one square. This morning, I think I am going back to Joann’s or Walmart, or the Sewing Cottage to try to find “natural” in a 40 weight cotton thread.

Trying out threads:

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ZIG ZAG!!!

You all know about my zig zag love, right? Actually, I find my love of the zig zag stitch somewhat puzzling. To me it is a little like garter stitch in knitting. Both stitches seemed somewhat utilitarian and common to me, nothing that a “real” artist would use. Now both stitches are one of my favorites. I like the idea of taking what is common and easily accessible and making something beautiful out of it. Plus, you know. Zig zag just makes a lot of things easier :)

So one day last week I was looking through some quilting blogs, and someone somewhere mentioned this artist that “makes something out of nothing,” using paper and extensive zig zag stitching!

In re-reading this article, I noticed this quote by the artist, Donna Rhae Marder. I find it comforting that others feel the same way I do about some aspects of creating art.

Marder comments, however, that, “tediousness becomes the most challenging aspect of my work.  Sometimes I spread the work of a piece over years so I can stand it.  I also listen to a lot of music and many books on CD.  I periodically think about getting someone else to do the repetitive part of my work and then I stumble over something while working that I can use to make the piece more interesting…”

Donna’s work just lit up my mind. I wasn’t interested in working with paper. But fabric? This was a new way of using the zig zag than I have done previously. The next morning I headed into the studio to experiment.

It just so happens I have a “few” fabric scraps pre-cut into two inch squares. These would be just perfect, I decided. I wanted to work small.

Here’s what I came up with.

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It was very fun sewing the pieces together with the zig zag stitch. Its not quick. But in my mind, there are so many possibilities for this. I am looking forward to exploring this technique more in the future.

P.S. This mornings explorations:

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And the Handwork Just Goes On and On!

On the best days, I work in the studio until about 2 pm. By then I am tired, and ready for my coffee break. Which puts me in position (in my comfie chair) to start handwork. Here’s a few views of what I’m still working on.

The endless straight line stitching on the pinkish-strata piece. I noticed that a secondary pattern is emerging with the spaces between the stitches. I like it.

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And I went back to the green floral piece, and added some leaves in the spaces between the flowers.

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Except for the never-ending needs of a garden in a drought, there aren’t too many unexpected interruptions, and life is flowing pretty nicely these days. Just the way I like it :)

This Week–In The Studio

A week  or so ago, I became enchanted by a quilt Melody Johnson shared on her blog. I sent the picture to my BF, and asked  why I liked it so much. Her answer: P.I.N.K.

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Ha! I truly hadn’t thought of that. I do like pink just a bit :) I also liked the scrappiness of it, and lately I’ve been attracted to the friendship star. I’ve been thinking about triangles for about 6 months. And I have been thinking about doing a more traditional style of quilt. P.I.N.K. confirmed it. This is the new quilt I would make for my bed! Oh, and I also liked that the original creator used old clothing in her quilt. I had saved some of the fabric from the last few colorful scrub tops I wore as a NICU nurse, and this would be the perfect quilt to include them in.

As you can see in the original, it is based on 3/4 –that is, there are 3 squares across the blocks, contrasting to the 4 squares across the sashing. The simplest equation for this is 12. So the blocks are based on a 9 patch of 4 inch finished blocks, while the sashing would be based on 3 inch finished blocks. I only tell you all of this to tell you something cool that happened quite by accident. I decided to make the half-square triangles for the star blocks by simply cutting 4 1/2 inch blocks, drawing a line down the center, and sewing ON that line. I cut the leftovers off with my scissors. As I looked at those leftovers, I wondered if they would make the 3 inch finished  blocks I needed for the sashing triangles. Sure enough, they did! So I sewed those leftovers together as I went along, and then “squared them up” and cut them down to 3 1/2 inches.

I do not like strip piecing, or speed sewing anything. So I just went through my stack of pinkish fabrics and chose three fabrics for each star block, and constructed each block one at a time. I know this is slower, but I am so much happier working this way. Every day I made a few star blocks, so that by yesterday I had all twenty of them done! I was a little surprised to see that my creation is LESS pink than the original. Maybe it’ll pink up when I add the sashing. I used a combination of contemporary prints and reproduction prints. And added in some stripes and plaids. This will not be big enough for a bed quilt, so I will add some kind of border.

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And returning to the cherrywood fabric and 2 inch blocks creation:  after thinking about how or if I wanted to add the squares to the last border of this quilt, I realized that the way I wanted to do it was to follow how I had done the first round. That is, I added the borders log-cabin fashion, and I sewed the little squares on to each log before I sewed it to the main piece. So I adjusted the little squares to mimic this treatment. Its a small changed, but one that made me very happy. Its ready to be made into a sandwich, but first I have to clear away some pink fabric from my cutting desk so I can turn it into my ironing desk :)

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New Directions

I hardly ever work so continuously on one project. But I really enjoyed this one. Yesterday I put a facing on it, and TaDa! It is finished! The title is “Seeing God.” I love the verse that inspired it: For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature. 

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In between stitching, I spent a bit of time in the studio piecing two more tops that I want to do a lot of embroidery/hand stitching on. Here is the “pink” one. The verse inspiration for this one is: Every good thing given comes down to us from God our Father who created all the lights in the heavens. 

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I took a picture of this top with the pink threads next to it, so you can see it will be a little more dynamic once the thread work is added.

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And here is one where I used my box of little two inch squares and my bags of Cherrywood hand dyed fabrics. I love those bags! They sell pieces of a large cross section of their hand dyed colors cut into about 8X10 inch pieces. There are lots of things you can do with an 8X10 piece of fabric!

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Anyway, I got this far, and I can’t decide whether I want to put more 2 inch squares on the outer border. I love the brighter colors and the glow that they achieve.

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Any opinions out there?

Quilt Show Overload

I’ve been meaning to post that the Sacred Threads exhibit opened this past weekend. If any of my readers live on the East Coast, this should be a wonderful exhibit. In addition, they have a lot of fun activities planned to coincide with it. On the first morning of the show I got an unexpected call. Someone wanted to buy one of the quilts I entered! What an unexpected surprise! Its not so much about the money, but more about the thought that someone else appreciated my work.

In the meantime, things have been keeping me busy around here, planning for some quilt shows that are coming up. I don’t think I mentioned it, but my BF and I have been planning for a while to attend the International Quilt Festival in Houston! We had our hotel and plane reservations made, but this past week we have spent a lot of time going over all the many class offerings. For me, there are lots of things to consider. Do I really want to learn a new technique? (nowadays the answer to that is usually no.) I enjoy spending plenty of time looking at the quilts in the exhibit, and I also really enjoy looking at what the vendors have brought to tempt me. So I don’t want to spend all the time in class. And since we have never been to Houston, exactly how much time will that take? So, I decided to mostly sign up for lectures. There were some excellent teachers and topics listed. Then, kind of at the last minute, I discussed with my BF whether I should take a long arm class. She is a long arm quilter extraordinaire. I have used her Gammil several times. And the idea of getting my own (smaller) long arm machine creeps into my thoughts fairly frequently… So I looked over all the times and topics, and discussed the various teachers with BF, and finally signed up for one. Now to wait and see whether I get into these classes.

At almost the same time, the information came out about the Modern Quilt Guild’s QuiltCon West! Well, I really wanted to go to that. I signed up the morning that class registration opened, and already Gwen Marston’s classes were full! Its a long ways off, so I might still get into those classes. I will get to hear her lecture anyways. I have taken a class with her, and heard her speak several times. I just enjoy her.

And then coming up soonest of all is Pacific International Quilt Show. This is actually the closest show to me, and I enjoy visiting it every year. But this year, since I am going to Houston, I was only going to go for one day. Then I saw on their flyer that Allyson Allen is teaching and lecturing there. I saw her exhibit several years ago, of quilts about slavery. I can’t really tell you how very deeply those quilts affected me. Here is a link to a youtube video of Allyson speaking about her quilts. So I know I really want to go and be able to listen to her lecture.

All these things cost money, I am sure you know. I am researching VRBO for places to stay during QuiltCon. And I am checking Hotwire for deals on hotels near to PIQF.

In the meantime, I still need to water the garden. In case any of you don’t read my other blog, here is the latest project–a patchwork path!

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And here is another creative way to use one of my too-many-quilts.

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I am Loving This!

So many times you get a new idea, and the idea is so much brighter and shinier than what you are actually able to create. This was a very simple idea, simply executed, and to me, it looks just as good as, or better than, my idea.

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I have been stitching on it non-stop since my last post, and have only stopped long enough to work on another strip-pieced top to highlight–guess what? My collection of pink and coral threads :) I am thinking about adding a bit to this piece besides the simple strip piecing, so it is sitting on my design wall while I cogitate on that a bit.

So fun when one idea takes you in a new direction. And that direction turns out to be something that pleases you both aesthetically and tactile-y. This straight line stitching is easy on the hands, and the only decision I have to make is which color of thread to use next.

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For this piece I am using #8 perle cotton. The brands I use are DMC, Finca, and Valdani. I use my favorite Clover leather thimble, and self-threading needles. The strips are cut free hand (in case you were wondering about them not being perfectly straight.)

Still Stitching

I haven’t posted for a while, but that doesn’t mean I have stopped stitching! I started a new embroidery project. Here’s how it started:

  • I had seen a group of my pink threads together, and thought it would be neat to try stitching a whole project ONLY using pink/coral colors.
  • I had a sketch in my journal.
  • And I had this card that I had gotten from a friend. I liked the colors in the card.
  • I wanted to try stitching on my own hand-dyed fabric to see how it was.

First I tried a version of this using brightly colored wool for the flowers. It was so garish, I knew I would not like it. So I discarded that idea, and threw the green background sandwich in the closet. Then one evening I wanted to stitch, so I got out the background again, and drew some stylized flowers on it (that I had sketched on a scrap of paper from something I saw on the internet, probably a hooked rug.) And started stitching away.

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And then I realized. Green plus pink equals brown. I was so disgusted. I know this so very well, from the years I spent making fiber blends. Discouraged, I sent this picture to my BF. She said she liked it, so I was encouraged to just continue on. Maybe if I put enough pink on it, it would show up. And so that’s where I’ve been. Steadily putting one pink stitch after another on this piece. Since I have a small embroidery with just straight running stitch, and another one featuring french knots, I am trying to feature the lazy daisy in this one. But have to admit, there’s plenty of other stitches in there.

Here’s some close-ups of the stitching:

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And then…because working on one project at a time is JUST NOT RIGHT, I started another simple project that was inspired by a verse I read in church a few weeks ago. “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature.”

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I am planning to just do straight “kantha” stitching across the whole thing, using a range of blue and beige threads. And, as always, I am surprised at how long it takes to stitch a single line across this piece :)

I’ve also been working on my rug a bit here and there. I was very happy with how the horse came out–it still looks like a horse :) I have that picture of a lion on there, trying to decide if I want to add it to the rug.

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And that’s how its been going around here. Enjoying my stitching. One stitch at a time.