19 May

The Gloaming

My wonderful circle of friends and I will be exhibiting together in June for the first time! I won’t be able to attend the reception, but I highly encourage anyone in the NY area to go. We created work based on the evocative colors of the gloaming, and it should be wonderful!

The Gloaming is a presentation of contemporary art, inspired by the magical time betwixt day and night, eliciting myriad transitions. The art is manifested in fiber-based media, from cloth to paper and plastic, in sizes large and small.

The five artists in this group show hail from across the United States. They initially came to know one another through artist groups on the internet; later, more personal conversations ensued and friendships were born. This is the group’s first collaborative exhibition though individually, each artist has shown work in juried art exhibitions and been published.

Gloaming Flyer web
10 Jun

Natural Dye Workshop update

There is so much going on around here! I spent last week at a SAQA regional retreat hosted by my new best friend Mary Beth Bella. We had a ball and I got so much work done. But first, the results of the natural dye workshop:

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I let the fabrics sit in their baggies for about 36 hours, then I rinsed them and hung to dry. I think I left them most of the week while I went to Mary Beth’s and washed them about three days later, but now I’ve forgotten. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised at how much the colors held. The cochineal is pretty pale,but I’m sure that has more to do with the dye pot being exhausted than anything I did.

I almost used the olive stars in my retreat project, but ended up having something else in my stash that worked better. That’s fine, these will get used sooner or later.

12 Sep

Angora

I really wish that intending to blog actually resulted in a real blog post.

Kid Hollow Angora Goats

I spent last Saturday with these guys and I totally meant to share it. Aren’t they cute? They are baby angora goats and I love their curls!

Pretty much as soon as I arrived in Charlottesville I joined a knit night group because that’s an easy place to relax, meet people, and work on projects. Many of the members are also members of the C’ville Fiber Arts Guild and it didn’t take much arm twisting to get me to join their ranks. September’s activity was to go to Kid Hollow Farm and not only meet the cute baby goats, but to dye some angora yarn for ourselves.

Dyeing at Kid Hollow

The first step was to fondle all the yummy fibers in Pat’s little shop and then choose a color combo that we’d like to make (a few of us also purchased some yarn already dyed by Pat, ahem). Then we picked the raw yarn and wet it.

Dyeing at Kid Hollow

We were each given our own recipes for our color combos and cups of the necessary colors.

Dyeing at Kid Hollow

We poured and smooshed until we were happy. One recipe involved sprinkling the dry dye powder on the damp yarn, letting that spread a bit and then adding dissolved dye of the same color. It reminded me of the blotter paper and black marker experiments you do to see that blacks are made up of many different colored pigments. I’ve long known that colors separate and speckle when you don’t mix the dye powders well enough, but I never thought to work with that as a feature. The yarn turned out beautifully.

Dyeing at Kid Hollow

The dyes were heat set in the oven (the dye studio was of course completely separate from any food prep sinks or ovens).

Dyeing at Kid Hollow

Piping hot out of the oven, our yarns were then ready to be rinsed and spun out. Mine’s the one in the back.

Dyeing at Kid Hollow

I hung the yarn at home to finish drying and then wound it in a ball. At first I was worried that a few areas were too light compared to the rich browny, greeny, purple combo I was going for, but when the strands separated in the ball, it all looked sparkly and great. Now I just have to decide what to knit with it. I’m not ready to attempt socks, but maybe fingerless gloves.

10 Mar

Crafturday (8) with Quilting

I spent my Crafturday piecing. I spent my Thursday and my Friday piecing too. I’m making a quilt for a special young lady who wanted something with a rainbow. So, I decided that a rainbow zig zag with “modern” fabrics would fit the bill. As luck would have it, I was even offered a sample pack of charm squares from Windham Fabrics that looked like they’d play well with what I had in mind.

Sample squares!

I cut 5″ squares from my stash and arranged them in rainbow-ish rows. I had lots of purply reds and greens to aquas, but not much in the way of pinks, sky blues, or blue purples and I needed more white and grey (I’ve actually heard that hard core modern quilters buy these by the bolt!). So I did a little shopping here and in Austin. Stitch Lab is a charming little shop that stocks not a comprehensive collection, but a very nice selection of fabrics that would appeal to the hip sewist, lovely wool felt and plenty of cheerful notions for projects like aprons and bags. But I digress.

Squares ready to start.

I paired one square of each color with a grey or white for the stripe above and one with a neutral for the stripe below and sewed the pairs on a diagonal to make half square triangle blocks.

The cool zig zags

Once laid out on the floor, I could refine my arrangements. The HST blocks definitely look different than the 5″ charm squares without the neutrals mixed in.

Some warm zig zags

Sewing the blocks in columns and rows is easy and it was fun to see the sections grow. The new Cabana Blooms play very nicely with my stash fabrics. And, of course, there’s a bunch of Kaffe Fasset Paperweight in there too (six colorways!). It never ceases to amaze me how well Kaffe fabrics blend with almost everything else.

An interesting aside, I could really feel a difference in weight between the Kona cottons, the Free Spirit and Moda fabrics, and the Windham and Westminster fabrics. For a well used quilt or handbag, I suspect the heavier Kona, Moda, and Free Spirit would last longer, but on the other hand, if I were making wearables, I’d much prefer the drapier Windham and Westminster. I had no problem using the various weights together though, and if a fabric had a color and pattern that I liked I wouldn’t not purchase it just because it’s base fabric wasn’t as thick as something else. It was just an interesting observation I could make because I was using quilting cottons from many sources.

Zig Zag for J

A couple of days collecting and cutting fabrics, and a good solid three days sewing, and I’ve got a quilt top finished!

Zig Zag for J

I think it looks awesome. Now I need to decide how I want to quilt it.

21 May

It wasn’t weird at all

You may remember that I bought this quilt as a top from Wanda about a month ago. I thought it would be weird  to quilt and finish someone else’s work, but it wasn’t at all. In fact, it was really fun and as soon as I started working on it, I couldn’t stop. Firstly, Wanda’s workmanship is impeccable. All the seams were even and all edges and points aligned. There were no poufs to “quilt out.” Basting was easy-peasy. The quilt is not quite twin sized, so I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it came together despite it’s being large enough to wrap oneself up in.

More significant though, was how the quilt revealed itself to me as I worked on it. Normally, I would already have a relationship with the fabrics from piecing them together. But since I didn’t piece this one, I got to meet each and every fabric and see how it interacted with it’s neighbor as I quilted. I enjoyed seeing how individual stripes modulated in color, and loved being surprised by each pairing that picked up on a hue in it’s partner. It was quite fun.

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I don’t know how many readers are relatively new to quilting and it’s associated gadgets. I may be preaching to the choir, but here are two of my favorites: my walking foot, and the bar thingie that came with it. Walking feet come in several varieties depending on your machine, but they are all variations on this foot-with-box contraption. The purpose of the walking foot is to move the top layer of the quilt sandwich at the same speed as the bottom layer and thus eliminate lots of frustrating puckering. I do all my straight line machine quilting with my walking foot. On this quilt, I kept the quilting simple, because really, with fabric like this, fancy quilting is just unnecessary.

Often, I just use the side of the walking foot as my guide for stitching parallel lines. That’s how I did the first round of quilting 1/4″ from the edge of each zig zag. I wanted to quilt a line down the center of each zig zag too, so I used one of the guide bars that came with the walking foot. It is L shaped and slides through a hole in the back of the walking foot and is locked in place with a screw. You can adjust it so the “leg” sticks out anywhere from right next to the foot, to about three inches away. I also have another guide bar for the other side of the foot, depending on what I want to line up with. (As an aside, my machine came with another two guide bars that fit into the back of many of the regular presser feet too.) Once you get the hang of it, there’s all kinds of uses for these guides. I measured the width of my zig zags (4″) and set my guide bar two inches from the needle. Then, off I went, quilting down the center of each zig zag, making sure the leg of the guide bar followed the seam line. In the photo you can’t see the lovely line of stitching behind the walking foot, but it is perfectly parallel to the edge of the yellow zig. You can see that I am about to pivot the quilt and sew the zag (this is where the needle-down function on many newer machines is also very convenient). I considered more lines in between these, but the quilt didn’t seem to need them. It’s for a kid’s bed, so it didn’t need to be quilt-show-fancy.

26 Jun

Colors of Polynesia

Where I used to post about German fests and castles, now it’s all tropical dances and food! Here are some images from our day at the Polynesian Cultural Center here on Oahu. Hopefully made more relevant to my creative journey blog in their arrangement by color. Everything should be clickable for a little bit bigger view. There’s also more on Flickr.

Clockwise from upper left: Hawaiian hula in plantation era costumes, traditional hula skirt or “pa’u,” Tahitian dancers, Hawaiian dancers.

Clockwise from upper left: Tahitian dancers, Fijian or Samoan dancers (I can’t remember), Tongan drummer, skirt made from the inner bark of the wild hibiscus tree.

Clockwise from upper left: Hawaiian hula kahiko dancers with feather rattles, Tahitian dancers with I’i hand implements, Samoan fire knife dancer, Hawaiian kahili, or royal standards.

Clockwise from upper left: Taro, Maori woman from Aotearoa (New Zealand) performing the haka as a welcome, Maori man performing another part of the ceremonial greeting, Maori group singing.

Clockwise from upper left: Fijian house for sacrifices, Hawaiian checkers (konane), Fijian tattoo for a king, Fijian outrigger canoe.

19 Apr

Still Scattered, But Slightly More Content About It

You guys are right. I can’t separate it all. Although my head says that showing the public a focused side of me where they can predict what I’ll produce (be it art quilts, craft ideas, a lifestyle type blog…) my heart knows that it’s just not me. What I really have to come to terms with is that to be the better person I want to be, I need to let go of the expectations or conventions of others. I need to stop comparing what I’m doing to what others are doing, and I need to define success for me only.

This post is evidence of that inability to separate that which excites me. I had what I thought was three separate posts swimming around in my head, but they kept converging. Bear with me as I just throw it all out at once.

I think it begins with the Ripple Afghan which is coming along nicely. I ripped it out and started over when I decided that I wanted more white. I contemplated leaving out a few colors, but once I added the white and toned down the orange with a half row of red, everything decided to play together well. I had originally imagined the color scheme as a beach wedding with red coral accents, but my daughter pointed out that it looked like lava to her and I love the way that tied my greyer colors in conceptually. So now, it’s a beach on a volcanic island (which I guess I really was from the start anyway).

As I’m rippling away, I’m watching the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival. I’ve decided that I really like the ancient chanting dances known as Kahiko Hula. It’s very different from the Don Ho hotel show style that usually comes to mind, and it’s not the coconut bra, wild hips of Tahitian dance either. I highly recommend going here to KITV’s Merrie Monarch page and look for the column of videos. Under “Watch Hula Kahiko Hälau Performances” are videos that will probably challenge your ideas of what Hula is. Check out the Hälau Hula O Kahikilaulani under Wahine Kahiko. I love the way their grass skirts move! Hälau Ka Liko Pua O performed a chant from the coronation of King Kalakaua (you may remember him from one of my 12 x 12 chair quilts). Kane are men, and you might want to check them out too — there’s more than a few bare chests.

(via the Polynesian Cultural Center)

Under the same general list of videos, Cherissa Käne, Kaholo Panui, and Pohaikau’ilani Ann Nu’uhiwa show a nice variety of costume and style within the chant category. I found myself fascinated not only by the rhythm of the chants but also by the outfits. The sheer yardage amazes me — just think that all woven cotton fabric would have been imported by ship in the days after “contact.” Before that, when these story-telling Kahiko were at their peak, I’m pretty sure the dancers would have been wearing Kapa cloth meticulously pounded from tree bark and then patterned using small bamboo stamps. I can’t imagine pounding or purchasing enough cloth for the full Pau skirts. I believe the puffy hip wraps I saw on both men and women were meant to represent kapa cloth, which would probably tend to puff rather than drape. Even with those, there was a variety of ways they were fastened. And the tops were fascinating to. At first I thought they were all variations on the tube top, but I realized that the tight fitting ones were actually ingeniously wrapped around the womens’ torsos. Again, they looked like they’d need lots of yardage. The men wore all kinds of loin cloths or skirts over pants. Again, the fastening of all the fabric intrigued me. There were dry grass and fresh Ti leaf skirts too. Amazing.

Probably because of all the mesmerizing drums of the Kahiko I’m feeling the urge to work on my tropical fabric designs (I realize that even if that’s a go-nowhere direction for me, I still have the urge to pursue it).

I’ve been working on other fabric-y art quilt stuff too. Earlier in the week, I decided to play with my Setacolor light sensitive paints. I wasn’t too happy with the results, which I attribute to my using a loosely woven, re-purposed duvet cover and cardboard stencils. Today, I tried again, with finer PFD fabric, plus I found some eight year old cyanotype fabric I had forgotten I had. I cut shapes out of fun foam, and it worked a treat. I don’t have photos of today’s work, but here’s my secret project from November. I wrote a proposal for my Süße Sac shoulder bag pattern using various types of complex cloth one might have around after trying the many techniques found in Quilting Arts Magazine. They rejected it, but now you get to see my summery, tropical (the convergence part) version made with sun printed fabric!

Aloha.