Cleaning and Restarting

One morning I woke up and knew this was the day! The day that I would clean out my fabric stash cubbies. I got sidetracked by a couple of unexpected chores, but I finally went out there and got it done! It feels so good to go through your fabric, weed out a few old things (or in my case, little bits and pieces) and know what you have and where it is. I have a LOT of commercial solids, and unfortunately, I stopped working with them a while ago, in favor of the hand dyes. But I might come back to them, knowing what is available.

dscn4875

I actually didn’t straighten out the two cubbies with my hand dyes and my 1800’s reproduction fabrics. I know what’s in there already.

dscn4876

Next, I decided that I liked the idea of using 36 of my stars (made from my box of 2 inch squares) as the center for a medallion, so I sewed those together, and then auditioned a few fabrics for the next few rows of the medallion. Because I had straightened out my fabrics, I found this birdhouse fabric that I had bought recently and really liked. I might use it in the medallion quilt with that gray fabric as a background. Before I put everything away, I decided to use the pink “log” fabric as the next border, and cut that and sewed it to the stars, about a 3″ width.

dscn4874

The reason for doing all this was to clear the design wall. I wanted to get back to the small compositions I had made for my “characteristics of God” series. I am anxious to get back to work on these. I have 3 or 4 more fabrics out to make into compositions.

dscn4877

And lastly, for your inspiration, here is a great little saying that perfectly describes the creative process.

thursday-thought

Busy Busy

I have been busy busy busy. Finishing and quilting and embroidering and starting. Here’s what part of the studio really looks like.

DSCN4488

I actually finished all eighteen of the “what they said” series. I will do a slide show for you soon. But I have a question. Five of them had some of the hand-dyed threads on them, and the thread colors ran. I put Shout on them, and then I ran them through the washer with a “color catcher.” Some of the offending color came out, but not all of it. Do any of you have any other ideas? Have you tried applying color-safe bleach with a Q-tip to the dye stains?

Anyway, I am very happy to have completed them. My plan is to mount them on cradled wood panels. So that part is not done. I will order some this week, to make sure my idea will work, and then I will order the rest of them.

That left the Juki free. And so I got out two almost-finished quilts. I placed the lettering on one, and then, because I had used a “brick” design on some of the ‘what they said’ quilts, that was exactly what I had been wanting to do for the quilt nearest the Juki. The verse on there refers to a crossroads. I finished quilting that today. Only needs to have a binding on it. and a sleeve 😦

By the way, I love the Juki more than ever. I love how very accurate  each stitch is. It is easy for me to exactly stitch over a line of stitching to get to the next area I need to work on.

You can see some of the panels for the Hallelujah Chorus quilt perched over there on the chair. I have almost finished the panels and the four large embroidered circles, and so this week I should be able to put the panels together into a quilt top. And then I will have to decide what the next step is. More embroidery, or machine quilting. Any which way, I am very excited to get to this next stage of the project.

I entered four quilts in Quilting in the Garden, and they were accepted. This is such a nice event, and of course, I LOVE the nursery where it is held. I am planning to take my mom to it this year, and thought it would be fun for her to see some of my quilts hanging.

And then, about that “thinkie” project. I spent a little time on it. I traced the photo on my 1/4 inch graph paper, and then went to the copy store and enlarged it 400%, which made it a 10 inch finished block. Then I spent some time drawing a pattern for it.

DSCN4442

And made one block.

DSCN4451

I don’t like it. I can see that the embroidery makes a tremendous difference in the appearance of the block, and choice of fabrics also is important. Anyway, I might try again, using some of my reproduction fabrics. I also drew a different design, and I am interested in trying that also…

I made the pattern because Kris had suggested that it might be a fun group project. I don’t think that’s gonna happen, but if any of you are interested in the pattern, you can email me (schnabel@volcano.net), and I will be glad to email you a copy of it.

So that’s about it for now. I started working on the rug of Noah again, and I occasionally knit or work on my Kantha blanket, just to get a little color in my life. I have more ideas for some fun color-work blocks, but they are still in the thinkie stage today 🙂

Quilting, Piecing, Embroidery, and Rug Hooking

I mentioned to a friend recently that I had been quilting, piecing, embroidering, and rug hooking, and loving all of it. I kept thinking about this, and I realized that part of the reason was because I had “stations” set up for each activity, so that it was very easy to go from one activity to another. I never understood before why people felt the need to keep more than one sewing machine set up, but now I do. I am much more likely to work on a quilt when the machine is all set up and ready to go. (And I do know that having a big new “toy” is a good motivator.) When I started working on that big rug in January, I rearranged my living room so that I could keep the rug frame up all the time. If the rug frame is not up, rug hooking just doesn’t get done–sometimes for months. And of course, my Janome sewing machine is always up, and I am more likely to go and sew together a few pieces when I don’t have to move a big quilt out of the way. My “embroidery station” is the same as always–my big comfy chair where I sit every evening with a dog on my lap, watching TV shows on my computer, and working on whatever embroidery project is at hand.

It has been so fun to look through my UFO’s and find quilt tops I had completely forgotten about, and others that were within a few stitches of being completed!

I really like this quilt. I was influenced by a little postcard of a magnificent Japanese quilt. Mine is not magnificent, but it was very fun to piece, and I enjoyed practicing “straight enough” line quilting on the new machine.

DSCN3846

This was part of a series of quilts I did for a “Pay it Forward” challenge SIX YEARS ago! I had so much fun making those little quilts for three of my good blog friends. This fourth one was for me, but I used a beautiful upholstery weight fabric on the back, and it was not fun to hand quilt through, so 7/8th’s of the way through, I just stopped. Except for the border it was almost completely quilted. I decided to try hand quilting again. Took two stitches (literally) and knew I wouldn’t finish. So to the machine it went. I am as pleased as can be with the result. I’m thinking about keeping it, just because so many good memories are attached to that challenge project.

DSCN3863

This quilt was completely finished except for the central chicken block. I got a little obsessed about that, even wrote a blog about changing it out, and then it got put away and forgotten about. I finished quilting around the motifs in the central block, and it was finished. Several of these quilts have had enough backing fabric that I was able to do the binding by just bringing the backing around to the front. VERY convenient!

DSCN3847

Piecing. I think I showed you this one  before. I just about used all of the strips in that box, and so it is done. Since the strips were cut with a ruler, I’m not sure why it has ended up a bit wonky, except that I didn’t use my 1/4″ foot all the time. Anyway, I think I will put a wide border around it to finish it off and to square it up a bit.

DSCN3844

These stars are mostly my project for Sewing Day with my ladies. So fun to do, but a bit time consuming. All done with 2″ cut squares from my box of little two inch squares.

DSCN3842

I had the idea to make these simple blocks to offset the star blocks, which are so busy, but I didn’t like the way that looked. So they might become their own little project…

DSCN3843

Rug hooking! I LOVE love love working on this rug. There is even more of it done now, but this is the most recent picture. Like I said, I have a place all set up in the living room, so it is very easy to just sit and do a little bit of hooking, if that’s all I have time for.

DSCN3813

Close-up:

DSCN3812

And embroidery. I have almost finished the embroidered words on all 17 of the quilts in the “what they said” series. I loved working on these, and trying to convey the thoughts and feelings behind the words through the way I embroidered the words. Now to quilt and finish them. I will show them all to you at one time, as that is the way I think they will have the most impact. Here is the one I chose to use as the “header.” Just the straight line kantha stitching over the whole piece.

DSCN3887

And that is how life is going in the studio right now. I wake up every morning excited about what I am going to work on that day.

In The Studio

Usually I only show you pictures of the studio after I’ve cleaned it up a bit. Right now I’m in the middle of SO. MUCH. FUN. and creativity, I don’t want to stop to clean. In between the rug hooking frenzy, I’ve allowed myself to play with a box of leftover pre-cut fabric strips.

DSCN3740

I’m enjoying this project quite a bit. Its tempting to add more fabrics in, but I’m making myself stick with the strips that are already cut in that box. The only fabric I added is that blue and green print. I think it adds a lot of focus to the piece.

DSCN3739

And, at the other end of the room–rug hooking central! Oh, and you can see in this picture that I got a large cutting mat that I cut to fit the entire desk top! Super good purchase–got it at Joann’s with a 60% off coupon! Before now, I’ve only worked with a 15X20 cutting mat!

DSCN3741

I am so enjoying working on this big rug. Its hard to stop!

DSCN3730

Close-ups. I added white “coral” on one side, and coral colored coral on the other side.

DSCN3732

DSCN3731

I took a break from quilting to concentrate on the rug hooking, but of course, I never completely stop stitching! These are two “travel projects. I started this one when I went to PIQF last October. Just an excuse for obsessive stitching. And as you can see, its not finished yet. I’m trying to think of some creative way to finish off all those bendy borders.

DSCN3733

Close-ups: I had a little french knot obsession going on!

DSCN3735

And of course, had to add a few words:

DSCN3734

This next was my travel project for the recent rug hooking trip to Anaheim. I hook all day at these retreats, and I like to have a project to hand stitch on in the evening in my hotel room. I saw something that made me think of making circles that weren’t circles, and that appealed to me. I didn’t have anything  in mind except adding one big off-center circle. Then I took some of the leftover pieces and added them on to one side. And then I thought, well, it would be more balanced if there was a third element added. By then I realized that it was starting to look like tide pools.

DSCN3736

I stitched obsessively on the motifs. But before I was very far, I knew I wanted to experiment with adding a second layer of stitching to indicate water ripples.

DSCN3737

And then I thought about adding “barnacles” using yo yos. Now it has a dimensional element, so I am feeling like I need to add another dimensional element. NOT an octopus 🙂 Maybe a starfish. And a lot of beading. But before I can do any beading, I will have to clean my studio. So for now, it will stay on the design wall awaiting inspiration.

DSCN3738