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.

DSCN5799

After it was all done, and bound and washed, I decided to try adding some beads to it.

DSCN5800

Advertisements

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:

DSCN5788

Close-ups:

I experimented with different fabrics and threads in this piece.

DSCN5789

The circle is wool. Some of the thread is silk, the rest is perle cotton.

DSCN5790

I tried fabric weaving in a couple of the blocks.

DSCN5791

My Guide:

DSCN5792

The verse  says, “He is my God forever and ever and He will guide me until I die.”

Close-ups:

DSCN5793

DSCN5794

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.

Something Old, Something New

DSCN5465

Something old: I washed an older quilt and put it on my bed to fold it up, and thought I would share it with you. I call this quilt “I Live in Pine Grove.” I do live in Pine Grove, and at the time I made this quilt there was a lot of different fabric with pine trees and pine branches and pine needles on it. I had so much fun collecting all the different pine fabrics. I had just a few fabrics with birds on them, and I made all the blocks and then had fun fitting them together. I hand quilted it. And it is still a quilt that I like very much.

DSCN5466

DSCN5467

A new finish: After agonizing over each area–should I add more stitching here? What about this area? How should I do the background? I finally just took the plunge, and finished all the stitching on this quilt. My BF was here for a one day visit, and she asked if I had considered turning it sideways. I hadn’t, but the more I looked at it that way, the more I thought that was the way it should be!

DSCN5476

I wanted to wash it before I blocked it and finished the edge, so I zigzagged around the edge and washed it very gently. And then blocked it on my design wall. I thought about how I wanted to finish the edge, and I decided that I want to do a hand-finished edge. I will do a satin stitch with perle cotton all around the edge. I am going to use the ecru thread that I used for the background. It is busy enough–no need to add any more color to it.

After I cut the edges to their final size, I stitched very carefully around the edge, just to keep it nice and neat while I hand stitch the edge.

DSCN5479

I did enjoy using chain stitch to color in some of the solid areas. Close-up of stitching:

DSCN5481

DSCN5480

Something new: And then I wanted to play and make another small quilt to embroider. I LOVE the piece that I used for the What They Said series:

dscn4528

And so I chose some new fabrics, and made the same block, only larger. Starting with one background fabric, you cut and insert strips and then a circle and then more strips, etc. Very fun to do. I want to explore this more!

DSCN5482

Of course now that I’ve got it done and the sandwich made and basted and all, its like I get all shy, and I don’t know how I want to stitch it! But I’ll just think about it for a bit. That’s part of the fun, isn’t it?

 

 

 

The Memory Quilt

I finished piecing all the blocks for the memory quilt. I mis-calculated, so there are 12 repeat blocks. Otherwise, all of the blocks are made of a different center square. There are 156 blocks. The finished quilt will be 90″ X 97.5″. That is the biggest quilt I have made in a long time.

I sewed the blocks into panels either 4X4 or 3X4, and made them into quilt sandwiches. The idea is that it will be easier to embroider around each block in this smaller size. I steamed the layers together and then actually quilted at the seam lines and basted around the outer edge. And then I will sew them together into one big quilt–that quilt-as-you-go thing. I have never done this, but Katie PM does it quite often and demonstrated it at the class I took from her. It looked easy.

DSCN5161

I finished the embroidery on one panel. Only 144 blocks to go 🙂 It takes quite a bit of time to embroider around one block–usually an evening. This quilt might take a LONG time to completely finish!

DSCN5166

One of the ideas I had was that these would be good projects to work on after I have my knee surgery in July. So I’m happy to have all 12 of these mini-quilts ready to go, waiting in my closet.

DSCN5164

I still love store-bought fabrics. Its just fabulous to find fabric that someone else designed, but that has your own color and design aesthetic all ready for you to use. Elephants were my favorite wild animal as a kid, and after I went to Africa, I collected quite a few elephant fabrics.

DSCN5162

You can see I am still using my same simple stitches in various combinations.

DSCN5163

So far this has been a completely enjoyable project. I loved going through my stash and cutting out squares of all the fabrics that I liked, and so many that held special memories for me.

DSCN5165

 

Of course, this is not the only project I am working on. I will try to catch you up on some of the other projects in the next week or two.

Projects and Project Boxes

I am a multiple project type of gal. I like having multiple projects to work on. But sometimes I get carried away and the projects multiply faster than I can work on them. And that can be overwhelming. That’s when the project boxes come in handy. I can put some of the projects neatly away for a bit. They are all ready for when the mood strikes, but they are not laying around making me feel guilty for the way I choose to work.

IMG_3303

Recently I saw a tiny picture somewhere. It was just a simple quilt, a kind of a square in a square, and I thought, that would be a neat way to use my kantha stitching. It seemed to be a scrappy quilt, and the main square was large with the outer square being more of a frame (where I would embellish with kantha stitching.) Here, like this:

IMG_3300

So I went out and went through my stash, and had great fun cutting out hunks of all my favorite fabrics, and then carefully cutting them into 6 inch squares. I have enough to make each block a different fabric!

IMG_3294

As I cut the squares, I had great fun re-visiting old and new favorite fabrics. It occurred to me that this is a great idea for a memory quilt. So many memories are attached to my fabric–where I was when I bought it, who I was with, and sometimes even the quilts that I have made with the fabric.

Here are some of the other projects I am working on presently. And even more are in project boxes…

Here is the piece that I showed you bits of previously. I have to take long breaks with this one to figure out what I want to do next. So far, each time it seems like “adding more” is the best solution…

IMG_3299

I got out the ten little pieces that I intended for the “Characteristics of God” series. I am making them into sandwiches and embroidering the words on them.

IMG_3301

And in the evenings, this one seems to have taken preeminence, because it is so enjoyable to stitch on with that DMC Coton Floche thread. I choose one block to work on, and then choose the threads that I want to use. It usually takes an evening to stitch one block.

IMG_3302

 

Inspiration

DSCN4986

Inspiration? Where does it come from? And when do you know its right? What makes some art “good” and other art “no good?” Recently I’ve been working a lot on a whole cloth embroidered piece. I had a general idea when I started, and of course, that idea has gone through several transformations since I started. But at each stage, I have despaired at whether or not this is a “worthy” piece. Should I just give up? Or should I continue on? How do you know when its time to stop, or if the next step will be just what the piece needs?

DSCN4988

I was encouraged to read Denise Schmidt‘s words in the new book, Abstract and Geometric. She is a trained AND commercially successful artist. She said

Looking and seeing is the only way to know. If I am not happy with how a quilt looks, the only way past this is to uncover what is not working by trying other solutions. Anything that changes your perspective can be a tool that helps you see more clearly. It can sometimes be a challenge, and no one is immune to it, but it is part of the creative process. I wish I could say it gets easier, but somehow it is always the same. It is less painful if you give yourself over to it and accept that design is a process of trial and error, of getting out of your own way, and of knowing your tools.

Okay then. So the other day I decided to spend the whole day working on this piece (I usually work on machine work during the day, and only hand embroider in the evening.)

DSCN4987

I decided to see if there was a good movie to watch while I worked. I chose one called Imber’s Left Hand. SO inspirational! This was a well-known artist who got Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Early on, he lost the use of his right hand, and so he just switched to his left hand and continued to paint. Lou Gehrig’s disease slowly erodes the use of all of the muscles in your body, but Imber continued to paint until 3 days before his death. And as I watched, I saw the exact process that Denise had described–many times he would paint something, and decide that it just wasn’t working, and paint right over it.

DSCN4989

And there’s the rub, right? Our work, whether with machine or by hand, is painstakingly slow compared to other artist’s work. And its not so easy to wipe it out or do it over. Sometimes we just have to let it go, and start from scratch with new information about what works and what doesn’t.

So you might have noticed I am not showing you the entire piece. That is because I am so unsure of it, so wondering whether to give up or go on. The piece is on the design wall now, pondering the next step. And, encouraged by these other artists, I am going to go into the studio and let myself cut up more fabric and put it back together. I am going to try my next big idea, not knowing whether or not it will work or whether it will be considered art. I am going to accept that design is a process of trial and error.

DSCN4991

Good News

While I was at Empty Spools, I got an email that two of my quilts had been accepted into the Sacred Threads exhibit! I was very excited. But when I read which two had been accepted (I entered four,) I was surprised, and then a little sad. My Hallelujah! quilt, that I worked on for so long last year, was not one of the two accepted. And then, of course, I started to doubt myself. Its just a stupid quilt with a lot of words on it. It has no artistic merit.

Fortunately, I had the quilt with me, and so I rolled it out on the bed, and thought, I still like it! Who knows why some quilts are accepted, and others are not. I am glad about the two that were accepted, as they have rather limited possibilities, as fas as exhibition goes.

The Fire Quilt was accepted:

DSCN4851

“On a Wednesday in September 2015, the Butte Fire roared through our mountain community. Homes were destroyed, and many, including myself, were evacuated. Extremely dry conditions made it difficult to contain. After a few days, I came home to ash-filled air. The fire was still not contained, but my house was safe. On Sunday, I made my way to church. The church was closer to the fire, and the building was smoky. But the church was filled, and several families whose houses had burned to the ground were there. We worshipped together, culminating with the Doxology. It was such a moving experience, I wanted to commemorate it with a quilt.”

Close-up:

DSCN4854

And “His Kingdom Will Never End” was accepted:

DSCN4919

“The inspiration for this quilt came out of my frustration with some of my fellow Christians, who seem to forget that His kingdom will never end, and think that its up to them to “fight” to keep it going. Other people choose to ignore God and His kingdom. It does not matter. All around the world, His kingdom continues to appear and grow. HIS KINGDOM WILL NEVER END.”

Close-up:

DSCN4920

Some more good news! Do you remember when I entered a few of my quilts in Quilting in the Garden, held in September at one of my favorite nurseries?

DSCN3557

Well, when I picked up the quilts, the woman that coordinates the show told me how much she enjoyed my embroidered quilt, and asked if I ever taught. Now, I don’t want to teach all the time, but Alden Lane Nursery is one of my favorite places to visit, and I also have really enjoyed taking classes there. They do a quality job of coordinating the class, and it is a beautiful location, of course.

 

So, long story short, I am going to teach there in September, on the Friday before the quilt show. And, I am to be a guest artist, and will have a display of my quilts in their greenhouse. I am so excited about this. Its hard to think about anything besides embroidery on quilts…. which is one reason why I don’t want to teach all the time. There’s not enough time left for artistic endeavor. I was glad to read Judy Martin‘s thoughts on this. I felt validated in my thinking. But teaching once or twice a year is energizing. It challenges me to go one step further, thinking “what if?”

If you have been thinking about trying quilted embroidery, I hope you will join me at Alden Lane Nursery on Friday, September 22!

DSCN3559

Stupid Sewing

A few days ago I was talking to my BF, and tried to express what I was feeling. “I don’t have any hand sewing project right now. I want to do something, but don’t seem to be able to make a decision about what to do/how to put it together. I look at artists like Judy Martin and Penny Berens, and it seems like they just work without a plan, but I know that that’s not true.” I was having trouble expressing what I wanted to say, but my BF knew just what I needed “Its time for some stupid sewing!” she said happily.

Stupid sewing. I don’t think we coined the phrase, but basically it means just sewing together fabric without a plan or any pressure to make something significant. It may or may not turn out well. But in the process you are freed up to create, and sometimes the act of creating will teach you what you need to do next.

So stupid sewing it was. I had set aside this piece of golden brown fabric, thinking that it might be nice to embroider on. And I had made a few larger yo yo’s with the new yo yo maker I got myself for Christmas. I thought that the print I used for them was just outstanding. It was a beginning.

 

In short order, I put together this little composition, used wool batting, muslin backing, and chose a few colors of threads, and there it was. SOMETHING I could embroider on.

dscn4857

Pretty fast I noticed it did not have enough color and contrast. Got out the pile of cherrywood bits and pieces and cut some small squares to add. Oh, and maybe a few smaller yo yo’s.

dscn4863

That’s better.

Now, one of the things I learned at Nancy Crow’s workshop is that prints are sometimes difficult. I LIKE prints. But she is right. This print on the side is somewhat distracting. It might get some stuff put on top of it. But for now it stays.

My mind is working, and I am learning things as I go. Best of all, I am happy to have SOMETHING to stitch in the evenings.

 

In the Meantime…

Its been a month since the Juki stopped working, and two weeks since I shipped it to get a new motor. I finished ALL the embroidery on the Hallelujah quilt, so it is waiting patiently for the Juki to return so it can be quilted. In the meantime, I have kept busy with other small projects.

I finally made myself sit down and work on one of the blocks for the Genesis quilt. For some reason, even though I had in mind doing primitive figures for this quilt, I was still intimidated to start. But once I started, it was fun. At first I was only going to put birds and fish on this block, but then I read the verse again, and realized I had to include an octopus and a crab to represent the things that scurry.

Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird—each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.

dscn4713

I’ll be back with a couple of other posts showing the small colorful projects that have been keeping me busy.

A Colorful Interlude

You all know I need a little color in my life, right? After working so long on Hallelujah, I allowed myself some colorful play. Mostly meaningless, but fun-to-me projects. Remember this saying that I said I wanted to embroider? Well, one night, I just got a piece of cloth and a blue disappearing ink pen, and went for it.

dust-if-you-must

Here’s my version. Can you see where I personalized it? Its not finished yet, but getting there. Had to share!

dscn4597

Embroider and a needle, instead of paint and a paintbrush.

dscn4599

I recently ran across a new blog, and on the first time I visited, she was doing a giveaway. I was really impressed with one of her paintings, and said that if I won, that was the one I would choose. If you can believe it, I won that giveaway! And so I decided that I would embroider a version of that painting.

dscn4602

A pen instead of a pencil, and I fashioned it after a special fountain pen that my dad had given me.

dscn4600

I was going to make a regular cake instead of the cupcake, but it was just too cute. I left it as-is.

dscn4601

And of course I had to add flowers to the seed stems.

dscn4598

Here’s my design wall. I have been working occasionally on Noah, and then I need to take it off the frame and look at it for a while to see if I’m still on track. The two big blocks are just the start of that Genesis quilt I want to do. And the other blocks were what I let myself play around with on Friday.

dscn4594

I just like making these cross-cut blocks. These are a lot bigger than the last set I did. I wonder if that means I’m on my way to making another big quilt??

dscn4596

Last weekend I went down to Quilting in the Garden. I was pretty excited to see my quilt (#74) hanging at the front display right at the entrance to the show!

fullsizerender

And here is another of my quilts (the cross) hanging on one of the magnificent old oaks.

fullsizerender-2

It was really fun to go to this show, and to see my quilts hanging. Its probably not the best venue for my quilts, because they are small, and you can’t really see the details–they are hung pretty high. But what’s not to enjoy about walking around a beautiful nursery and looking at quilts at the same time?