Beading and Other Stuff

I showed you the start of this beading project, but never showed you the final product. Once I started beading, it went fairly quickly. Much faster than embroidery, in my opinion.

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And some close-ups:

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I finished piecing together that giant quilt, made a sandwich, and quilted around each smaller block to stabilize it. And then I pondered hand quilting it. In the meantime, I was sitting in church, and wrote in my journal, “my next big quilt must be about PEACE.” And later in the week I realized that I could make THIS BIG QUILT about peace. So I marked out huge letters “PEACE” on it, and know that I’ll hand stitch those. And then I chose 12 excellent verses on Peace, and marked 12 spots on the quilt where these will be hand stitched. But in the meantime, because it is so huge and heavy, I think that I will machine  quilt it. That way it might actually be finished in this time period where we all need to think about peace and what it means for each of us.

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I’ve also started back to work on my series “Characteristics of God.” I’m hand stitching the words and then machine quilting each piece. Still pondering how to finish the edges. There are only 10 pieces in this series, so I am hopeful to complete them soon.

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And in the meantime, my fascination with hexies has not diminished. They are fun to make, and relatively mindless at this stage. Just right for evenings sitting by the fire with two dogs on my lap and watching my TV shows.

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Thank You Quilts

Sometimes someone does something for you that’s so special, you need a special thank you for them. I’ve done these little thank you quilts several times over the years for extraordinary acts of kindness. They are fun to do, and usually just take a couple of evenings to complete. I try to include something that relates to the event.

Here’s a thank you for my BF, who came and took care of me following my knee surgery. She brought her accu-cutter with the hexagon molds for me to play with. She tried to encourage me to play with my wool. She encouraged me to try playing with my beads. (Pretty much none of this worked at the time, probably thanks to the excellent 🙂 pain medications that I was on.)

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And here’s the thank you quilt that I made for Cindy, at Alden Lane Nursery, after she had me as the guest quilter. I included the umbrellas and ombre clothespin decorations that she used to decorate the greenhouse where my quilts were hung. Cindy first noticed my work when I entered a quilt the year before that had 2 inch squares embroidered on it, so of course I used some of my squares and embroidered them.

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These are some of the funnest projects I’ve worked on. Next time you need a special thank you, try making one of these instead of searching through those so expensive greeting cards at the store!

Art Quilt Tahoe

It was a kind of spur of the moment kind of decision. I read something somewhere about going on a retreat, and that made me look up Art Quilt Tahoe, and I saw a teacher I had never heard of, and I loved her work. She was working with silk gauze, and I have been thinking about working with silk organza for quiet a while, so… I signed up!

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First, let me just sing the praises of the teacher, Michelle Mischkulnig. She was a lovely person, with a great sense of humor, and gave individual attention to every person in class. I think this made for a great class atmosphere, and I have never been in a class so full of nice people!

Michelle had a definitive project for us to work on, and provided a kit with most of the materials needed. Well before the retreat started, she sent us an email so that we could choose the colors of silk gauze that we wanted to work with. Here’s the colors that I chose.

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Michelle had us lay out our gauze on a base of muslin, with a layer of batting below that. And then we added accents of silk top (unspun silk.)

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Then we covered the whole thing with a piece of water soluble something or other, and machine quilted the heck out of it. I think we drew our design on there first. The dark brown spots on there is some wool felt that I added to define the branch. The quilting took all of the first day, and much of the second day. She had us mark an X through the leaves that we would remove. (Oh, and I added a bird to mine)

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Then we cut out the leaves.

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And somehow, by magic, we used water soluble fusible and we stitched madly and created see-through leaves.

And then we took it outside and squished it around in soapy water, and ta da! All the fusible melted away, and there was our composition!

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THEN, we used another piece of silk, and more fusible stuff, and we painted leaves.

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And then we embellished them with yarn and velvet and felt, and then carefully cut them out and sewed them on to our piece.

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And here is what my piece looked like at the end of day four.  (We also made those “3D” leaves out of more felt and sewed them onto the main piece.) I made my bird out of silk and velvet and some silk gauze.

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I tend to get tired and then negative at quilting retreats. So I was very happy to see that when I got home and put this piece on my design wall, I actually like it. There is a lot more I want to add to it, including adding more details to the bird.

I think you can see that there were a lot of techniques taught in this class, many of which I had never done before. I would thoroughly recommend taking a class from Michelle if the opportunity ever presented itself. She is from Australia, and she said she does not have plans to come back to the states next year. So just keep her in mind, in case her name pops up, and sign up for her class!

 

Easily Distracted

Because of various influences–a blogger friend who wrote about English paper piecing and the quilts of Lucy Boston (I ordered the book,) my BF, who took a class on English paper piecing, and so was talking about hexies, and a closet cleaning episode, where I discovered a treasure box filled with a lot of little hexies from a long forgotten project, I started putting some hexagons together.

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The whole time I am working on these, I enjoy the project, but of course it goes slowly, so I wonder what I am doing and if it will end up as anything at all.

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Sometimes you just have to try. And sometimes you have to give yourself permission to do “stupid sewing” that might not lead directly to anything, but might just be the inspiration you need for the Next. Great. Project. 🙂

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Early Morning Inspiration

Before I did Quilting in the Garden, I had started constructing these criss cross blocks. My plan this time was to make a large quilt. I read somewhere that one of the significant things about quilt art was that it could be made on a large scale.

So I made criss cross blocks in my spare time. I made a LOT of criss cross blocks, and kept adding them to the design wall.

Then one day I thought I might have enough to put together into a quilt. But I was flummoxed. They were too crowded and just a mess on the wall. You can see in this picture that I was auditioning some black prints to use as spacers in this quilt.

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And then one morning I woke up too early. I didn’t really want to get out of bed, so I got my Kindle Fire and decided to look at quilting blogs. Now, I really don’t have that many quilting blogs bookmarked on my kindle. So its kind of amazing that I got so much inspiration from just looking at two blogs. First I looked at Judy Martin’s blog. I was impressed by the large scale of her quilts, all the wide open white space, AND that she had completely covered the quilt in  hand stitching.

Next I looked at The Silly Boodilly blog, and she happened to have an entry explaining her design process. Mostly I was impressed by the simplicity of the “nine patch” quilt at the end of this piece. (P.S. I LOVE the barn in this post.)

And that’s when I got the idea of how I would construct these criss cross blocks. I would put them  in 20 inch blocks (later changed to 24 inch blocks) to give them more open space and provide a little structure. I used yarn to make a 24″ block on the design wall so I could figure out how to place the criss cross blocks.

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Its still a puzzle trying to figure out how to put the blocks together without using any y-seams. But the more you do it, the easier it gets.

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I also decided that I would “kantha stitch” all of the background. So when I looked for the background fabric I would use, I had Kona Snow, which is my favorite “white,” and I also had some white backing fabric (108″ wide) from Joann’s, which was a looser weave, and therefore would be easier to stitch through, so that’s the one I chose.

With my new construction decision, I decided against adding the black spacers. The block construction would be enough. I did make a few circle criss cross blocks. Because, you can never have enough circles 🙂 So, here’s how its going:

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I am going to make it a 4X3 construction, so the size will be 72 wide by 96 high. That should probably keep me kantha stitching through the winter!

 

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.

 

 

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!