Tangents

Here’s what happens when you finish a large project, and have some extra time. Tangents. Also, its all related to an upcoming trip, and I MUST HAVE THE PERFECT TRAVEL PROJECT for any trip. Even if the whole point of the trip is for rug hooking and getting started on a new rug hooking project that I am very excited about. I need something for my evenings. Something new and fun.

So, I noticed with my “stupid sewing” project that I really loved the colors of thread that I had picked out. Only with the darker background of this project, these colors didn’t show up quite as well. Maybe I would choose a neutral background and use just these threads to do some kind of stitching.

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Much doodling sketching ensued. I came up with this partial design while sitting in church Sunday and decided to go with it. A quilt sandwich has been made, and I am doing some experimental stitching on it.

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While cleaning out my fabric bins, I came across a collection of fat quarters that I had gotten a bit ago that I was very enamored of, and had not yet had time to play with. Maybe I’d take them and do some hand piecing on my trip. I decided to try this out. Did I even still like hand piecing? To be honest, I started on the machine. Then I decided that these little fiddly pieces would probably be easier to hand piece.

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As of today, I am undecided about which project I will take with me. I did remember that I had another travel project from my Colorado trip, so I will bring that for sure. I am leaving a little early for my rug hooking retreat so that I can visit the Road to California show! I will return with lots of new ideas, I am sure.

Time Away

I just returned from a week-long trip to the little town of La Veta, Colorado! My BF decided that she wanted to take an intensive workshop with Judith Baker Montano, and I said, “want some company?” I have done “self-retreats” before, and find it very profitable to spend concentrated time working on projects at a location other than my studio. Plus, Colorado? That sounded fun!

All the other times I’ve done this, I traveled by car, so I could bring all the supplies I wanted. This time we would be flying, and so I had to carefully choose what I would bring. My friend Ricky Tims also lives in La Veta, and he very graciously loaned us two of his sewing machines! So all I needed was to pare down the raw materials I would bring. I ended up bringing my bags of Cherrywood fabrics, a quilt blanket “blank” for embroidering on, and then cut out 8 squares of hand-dyes for a new quilt idea I wanted to try starting on. I also brought some muslin and batting “just in case.” And of course, a big supply of perle cotton thread, scissors, rotary cutter, pins, etc. LOL, both Robin and I forgot machine sewing thread! Fortunately, Ricky had some nice thread for sale in his studio 🙂

We found a great place to rent, with plenty of room to spread out all our quilting supplies. In between visits and “touristing” I managed to get quite a few bits and pieces done.

I admire piecers who work with small bits so very much. One of my current favorites is Maria Shell–check out her work in this blog post! So the first thing I wanted to do was to do some piecing with my bags of Cherrywood fabric. I also had a scrap of Ricky Tims’ multi-color fabric, and I decided that I would cut the center squares out of that, and then use the cherrywood bits to make some abstract log cabin blocks. Nothing was cut straight, but as I finished each piece, I squared it up to 4 1/2 inches. At the end I made three 6 1/2 inch blocks.

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Now, although I admire the work of others who work with small bits, this is about my limit. I get bored. So I will sit and think, and eventually these pieces will work their way into one or more projects. I did this a couple of years ago, and I used all those little blocks to make the “what they said” series, as well as several other pieces.

Next, that big blank canvas for embroidering on. I also admire the work of Judy Martin, Penny Berens, and others who work on daily “scratchings.” Once again, I don’t think I really want to spend the time doing this EVERY DAY. But I love the idea of it. So that was in my mind when I took this big (for me) blank  quilt sandwich to embroider on.

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The first day I took it out and stared at that big empty space, it started to rain. Evidently, this is “monsoon season” in Colorado, and the afternoon rains are very welcome. They don’t last long, and they cool things down nicely. So I embroidered that.

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Ricky and Justin took Robin and I out to their property (45 minutes from town!) and on the way there was an old church, the last remaining building of what had once been a small town.

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I was fascinated by it, and took several pictures of it. I decided that I wanted to try embroidering it.

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You can see with both of these that I started by cutting out simple shapes and using blanket stitch to embroider them to the blank. Hand dyes work very well for this–practically no raveling at all. I really enjoyed the “grass” stitching. Very quick and simple. I hope to do more of this.

So these embroideries were a little departure from most of my work–more representational than abstract. I enjoyed doing them, and I wonder what it will lead to. Right now I think I will keep this blank as a true travel project, and will take it with me on my travels, and add a bit to it with each new location.

The last day I got out those squares of hand-dyes that I had carefully packed. I spent a lot of time staring at my journal, making notes and thinking, and finally started two of the squares. They are for a quilt of Genesis. My brother suggested it, and I think it will be a very interesting project. Of course, some of the blocks will be on creation, but there are other interesting stories in Genesis that I am challenged to try to represent in cloth.

And now home, and I reverted right back to working on my Hallelujah Chorus quilt. I have three word panels done, and one and a half circle panels. I am motivated to work consistently on this quilt. Not only is it enjoyable to work on, I would like to finish it by November for several different display possibilities.

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One Stitch at a Time

One stitch at a time–that’s all I seem capable of these days. But when you think about it, that’s all any of us are capable of, right? Whether by machine and very fast, or by hand and very slow, we have to take one stitch at a time. And isn’t that exactly what we love about our work with textiles, whatever they may be. The very fact that we can take one stitch at a time, and eventually end up with a masterpiece, if we will just continue on, is a miracle!

Lately, I’ve been taking one stitch at a time on my rug. I made a macaw in flight!

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I made an owl.

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I put him in front of a moon.

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And then one day, the rug was finished. (In case you’re interested, I am still going to “tweak” that sunset section behind the elephants.)

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Only, two friends (and myself) agreed that the rug needed a border. I found these wools, dyed a deep green/brown with a hint of burgundy, and they seem like they will work well. One thing about a border, I can work faster in a straight line! I will add the words “He holds all creation together” at the top, and the scripture reference “Colossians 1:15-20 at the bottom. The lettering will be done in that golden/apricot color that is the same color as the cross in the background.

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In the evenings, I’ve been obsessively stitching away on this little piece. It became my travel project for the time I spent teaching in San Luis Obispo. I mentioned to one of the workshop attendees that I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. And she picked out a piece of fabric from my stash and mentioned using it as a background/frame. And now I know what I will do with it.

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Oh, teaching–I thoroughly enjoyed my time teaching in SLO. The women in the workshop were delightful, and they seemed to enjoy learning and working on the projects that I taught. Is more teaching in my future? We will see, we will see 🙂

Close-ups:

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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

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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.

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

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And of course, had to add a few words:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Finished?

At the end of my Sisters trip, I pieced this together. I simply wanted a background of my hand-dyed fabric to embroider on. I wanted to see how it was to stitch through. (My hand-dyes so far are muslin and Robert Kaufman’s Kona PFD fabric.) I just intended to do some straight line stitching on it. Then it just seemed like it needed some circles. Some of the circles are stitched straight on the fabric, while others have a solid appliqué background. BTW, my hand-dyes are LOVELY to stitch through. Not hard to figure out, since both of those fabrics are not tightly woven.

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Since this was a quilt that I started while traveling, and continued to work on at home and in my travels, this seemed like the perfect verse. I used variegated thread for the lettering. I should probably stop doing that…

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I do love my little circles. I guess you could tell that by the amount of pictures I take of them 🙂

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For these circles, I made a rule that I could only use the running stitch (of course the appliquéd edges are blanket stitch.)

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I put a question mark after “Finished?” in the title, because I think this little piece might need a bit more quilting in the background.

Here is one more look at a quilt I think I already shared with you. It is bound now, and it really is finished.

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The Last Quilt and the First Stitch

Haha. The title is much more dramatic than the mundane reality of moving an entire studio from one location to another. The new studio is finished, and furniture is moved in. Some of the fabric has been brought in, but none of it is in exactly the right place.

Anyway, last weekend I took a couple of days off, just to get out of the house and the endless construction, and went to a hotel for a little personal quilt retreat. I found my box of good scraps under my bed, and chose some fabrics I liked, and then found a piece of “fabric I love” and grabbed that to go along with. I looked through my Gees Bend book for inspiration, and found one of the housetop quilts that I thought would be fun and easy to construct.

I managed to make 9 blocks while I was gone, and finished the other seven after I got home. So this is the very last quilt to be on my design wall in my bedroom.

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Its nothing spectacular, but it was fun to play with those fabrics I like, and very relaxing. It doesn’t look finished to me. I might add another row to it, or embellish it a bit. You can probably see that its not very straight. That’s what happens sometimes when you work improvisationally  and quickly. But its cloth, and it’ll all come out fine in the wash. Literally haha.

When I got home from that trip, the studio was completely finished! I posted a lot of pictures on my other blog . In case you only read my quilt blog, you can click here to see those pictures.

And here is the very first stitch I am taking on my sewing machine in my new studio. How fun.

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I was just putting some borders on an orphan block to take with me as my travel quilt for this next trip.

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I am headed to Haiti and to Texas! I can hardly wait to get home and really get my studio set up the way I want it to be.

Newest Finished Work

The little travel quilt is completely finished. Once I finished it and washed it I was very pleased with how it turned out. Even though I don’t have that much time to work on these quilts while I am actually traveling, they hold a lot of memories for me.

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Some close ups:

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And now I have no little circles to work on at night! I am getting a lot of knitting done. But I am hankering for another hand stitching project, so hopefully I will come up with one soon!

A Deadline is a Good Thing

I was asked to speak at the ladies luncheon this Saturday about The Bridge and our trip to Haiti. It has seemed to me that my life has run along two parallel but divergent lines for the past year–my housetop quilt project and my work on The Bridge. And they practically intersected during the first week of January. I hung the quilts for the gallery display on Thursday, and Sunday I left for Haiti! So I asked the organizer of the luncheon if I could share how meaningful both projects had been in my life for the past year. And she was most enthusiastic about it!

That meant that I had to try to finish two quilts this week. Because both of them were very related to the Haiti trip. One, of course, is the little travel quilt. As soon as I get off the computer, I need to start stitching like crazy on that one.

And the second was this quilt. I’ve been calling it ‘the little crosses’ quilt. But the real name is “We Are One.” I shared the meaning behind it here. I finished up the quilting on Monday, and I got all the words stitched onto it yesterday. And today I decided what to use for the binding, and got that put on this afternoon! Whee! It sure is fun to finish a quilt. Sometimes its a little painful, when you are kinda ‘done’ with it and ready to move on to the next project but there are still a lot of finishing touches to be completely finished. But it always feels great to put that last stitch in the quilt and hang it up to see your finished work.

Anyway, here is a shot of the four original blocks–remember, they are the ones I didn’t like, so I cut them into smaller pieces and inserted the crosses.

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And here is the finished quilt:

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And a couple of close-up shots:

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And now I’m off to stitch a bit more!

New Work from Old

Well, I did go back to my quilting this week, but I got a rather slow start. I had little bits and pieces of ideas, and I just tried them all out.

I had six blocks that were made from a piece that I didn’t like at all, so I cut it all up into smaller pieces and sewed it back together. I liked those blocks, but what to do with just six blocks? So they have been hanging around (literally-hanging on my design wall,) for over a year. Sunday night I was thinking about what to do with them, and I thought--hmmm, six blocks. I wonder if I can make a cross with them? And sure enough, I could! I love the way it looks, but once again, it is stuck on the design wall, because I am still thinking about how to ‘frame’ it.

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Then, I had some more blocks that I had put together in simple uneven strips of 5 color ways–yellow-gold, violet, blue, red, and green. BO-RRRING. So I cut those blocks into smaller strips. I found this piece of gray batik with pink metallic blotches on it, and thought it looked just great with the colored strips inserted. Again, I am not working evenly. I am trying to make them all into 12 inch blocks so that eventually it will be easier to put together.

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Then, I had this bag of one inch strips hanging around. They were leftover from a bathmat that I knitted (yes, I knitted with one inch strips of cotton fabric. No, I don’t recommend doing that. It was pretty hard, and my wrists really hurt by the time I was done. But yes, I do love that bath mat!) ANYWAY, I kept thinking, what could I do with one inch strips? And this morning I was looking through an old journal, and there was an entry where I wrote down “try doing a raw-edge log cabin.” Wow, I answered my own question! Here’s the prototype. I really like how it looks. And I think it will be very interesting after its washed. The raw edges will fray and add a lot of texture.

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And of course, mostly in the evening, I continue to work on my little travel quilt. Who had the idea that the entire thing should be covered in quilting lines less than 1/4″ apart?

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Of course, supervised, as always, by Sophie.

So that’s what I’ve been up to this week. It didn’t seem like I had done much. But when I put it all down in one place, it seems just fine for a week’s work.

Moving Right Along

I have been working very consistently on my little “travel quilt.” That is the quilt that I took with me to Haiti to work on while I was there. BTW, you can take sewing needles with you on the plane. So I stuck three needles in the quilt sandwich, and I took some pre-cut threads with me. I actually never took a stitch on the airplane or in the airports. But I had my security blanket with me!

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All the words are on the quilt. And most of the circles have been embellished with embroidery.

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I decided to outline the squares in the background fabric with perle cotton. And then I am filling in the rest of the background with very close parallel lines of stitching.

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I made a pieced back for the little crosses quilt and put the sandwich together. I’ve started doing echo quilting around the crosses. I am machine quilting this one, since there are so many seams. I will embroider the words after all the quilting is done. And if it needs it, I will add a little hand stitching embellishment. Its been a very full day. I’m off for some lap time with the doggies, and maybe just a bit more hand stitching.