30 Jun

“Rooted”

Rooted

“Rooted” 2007        10″x12″

I decided to add a little hand quilting, then I took Jeannie’s advice and made it into a “pillowcase” and stuffed my foam core inside. I stitched the open side closed and popped it into the frame. Looks nice and clean.

30 Jun

Chevron Scarf Redux

I finished Chevron Scarf number two. You’d never know that I used two skeins of differently colored wool for this. It doesn’t have the striping that the scarf is known for, nor the bigger pools of color I was hoping for. However, it matches just about everything I wear, and it’s super soft, so I’m not complaining!

Chevron Scarf #2

Obligatory head wrap photo

28 Jun

What’s up with the Norwegians and Mushrooms?

Speaking of Norwegians, I forgot to post the cute Til Nisse (I hope I remembered that right) that Wenche sent me (along with some Fliegenpilz fabric!) about a month ago.

Little Santa

I traded a Fliegenpilz pincushion and some German chocolates for him (I hope it all arrived safely, Wenche).
Wenche's Fliegenpilz Pincushion

It’s a little warm for Nisse here right now, so he’s hibernating with some other Norwegian gnomes until Advent. Not to worry, he’s in good company, and even has some Christmassy toadstools to rest on.
And speaking of Fliegenpilze, I made some minor modifications to my knitting needle case from Katrin. I removed the top flap and sewed it to the lower portion so I could have wider pockets for my circular needles. Then, since I don’t seem to use the REALLY long needles, I folded over a few inches and stitched that down for a new flap. I went ahead and sewed on a piece of ribbon too — to hold my wonderful stitch markers.

Mushroom Needlecase Inside

Instead of rolling, the case now folds, so I added my Fliegenpilz button to secure it, and voilá:
Mushroom Needlecase Outside

Thank you Katrin for the coordinating knitting accessories. Now I can look like I know what I’m doing when I knit yet another rectangle.

28 Jun

Murphy’s Law

One of the hardest things about being creative professionally is that you can’t just turn it on and off like a 9 to 5 job. Sure, I used to go to work at 9 and leave at (hopefully) 6 and try to make appropriate, beautiful, creative designs, but some days it just didn’t happen. And some days, I’d be sketching at home because that’s when the inspiration hit. It’s the same thing trying to nurture my fiber art now. Just when I start getting into a nice, messy, creative momentum, leather-clad Norwegians on a motorcycle arrive at the door, and then my kid gets sick.

Not that I don’t like Vikings, it just meant that I had to clean up the piles of bubble studies-in-progress and the soft sculpture “mis en place” that has taken up residence on the guest bed. Work was going to stop anyways since my sewing machine let me know that it was time for it’s annual tune-up. My dealer is all about customer service though — she gave me a cute little loaner to drive while mine’s away. I love the way it matches my Fliegenpilz decor.

Even the machine is red and white

OK, so I’ve set up the loaner machine, and the Norwegians are on the road again, but now my son appears to have Pink Eye. No school for two days. Argh. Then I realized that the faces I’ve been embroidering for my softies are too big. You’d think I’d double check before making 18, wouldn’t you.

What I did manage in the last three days though, is this:

Embroidery WIP

It was going to be a base for a bubble study, but then it became an embroidery I could sit in the living room with and converse with friends or an eight year-old while working on it. I need some advice though. I had originally thought I’d machine stitch bubbles in the border, but now I think that would obscure the grid in the fabric too much (part of the exercise was to be to use the grid to make more regular bubbles, but now I don’t think that’s appropriate for this piece). I considered quilting vines a la Jane Sassaman, and my Hansel and Gretel quilt, but that’s not exciting me either. I could just leave it as is — not a quilt at all, or maybe hand quilt loose rows in the border and a little into the main area just to keep it from getting too puffy. So that’s one question. The other is how to finish it off. I have a honey colored wooden frame that it looks really nice in. If I were to frame this piece, either quilted or not, what would be the best way to go about it? I imagine wrapping the fabric around acid free foam core or other board, but then do I just tape it to the back with acid free tape? Or does that look sloppy? Lace it on with stitching? Then I’d have to finish off the edges nicely. Or, since I’d cover the whole back with a dust cover, does it matter? Any embroiderers or cross-stitchers out there with advice? I’m envisioning the frame as the “binding,” so I don’t want to float a conventional little quilt on a backing within the frame. Thanks in advance for any help.

25 Jun

6/25/07

This one actually started last night. I got into bed, but then had an idea and had to get up and go back to the sewing machine.
6/24/07
“Rooted” 2007 9″x12″

The background is irregular bubbles stitched pretty regularly. I don’t know if it’s the thicker thread (40 weight Valdani hand dyed) or the thicker/looser fabric (a recycled cotton tablecloth, also hand dyed), but it was pretty easy to keep the stitches even and looking good. On top of that I appliquéd a house painting. Then I added a piece of cotton drop cloth and stitched with the fine Masterpieces thread and then the metallic again. This morning I added french knots and decided that the experiment was worth binding and finishing off.

One of the Quilted Chaos ladies has been generous enough to coordinate donating a bunch of little quilts to Ami Simms’ Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative. I figured if she is magnanimous enough to do the coordinating, I could be magnanimous enough to make something. So this will be it.

24 Jun

6/24/07

Thanks for all the skirt love. The birthday party has been postponed due to illness, so we’ll have to wait another week to find out how the girls like the skirts. I guess that means Katja has to wait another week to wear hers. Bummer.

Taking Mirjam’s advice, I decided to embrace the bubble for my needle doodle today (and possibly for the foreseeable future). First, I did a feather and surrounded it with little bubbles, making sure to retrace carefully. The best part about this? I did it in metallic (Superior with a topstitch needle) and the thread didn’t break ONCE!!!!

6/24/07 step one

Then I did bigger beige bubbles with regular thread (Superior Masterpieces, if anyone is interested). The larger bubbles were harder to keep neat and tidy. I also didn’t achieve as much contrast as I had hoped for since there’s still a lot of little bubbles filling in spaces between the big ones, and because the big bubbles are about the same size as the feather bits.

6/24/07 step two

So I used some variegated rayon thread to draw veins in the feather. That looked pretty cool, but I thought I’d try one more thing.

6/24/07 step three

I made more big/little bubbles with the colored thread. It’s as if the feather is effervescing color. Or not. Anyways, it was a fun experiment and now I’ll sleep on it and see what else I can try tomorrow on a new one.

6/24/07 the back

The last picture is the back. That’s a lot more quilting that I’d normally do on a quilt. Certainly it’s more than any functional bed covering needs. This isn’t about functionality though, it’s about figuring out what I can do, and what I like to do.

22 Jun

I couldn’t do it.

Last August I decided to try and find a use for all my teensy fabric scraps, and vowed not to buy any more brand new fabric. It’s official now. I just can’t do it. The scraps were the first to be let go. I still keep scraps 2″ or larger to incorporate into my quilts, but the smaller stuff just goes in the trash. I found it was very heavy and dense to use for stuffing. Too dense for pin cushions, and I worried that if the softies I used it in were washed, they might mold before they actually dried out. Giant pillow, Herr Hedgehog, is still doing well, but he weighs a ton.

As for fresh-off-the-bolt fabric, I think my first slip was buying new flannel for the back of my niece’s baby quilt. That then led to new flannel for the Ladybug and Strippy Blue baby quilts (hopefully balanced by the blue one’s exclusive use of scraps). It’s a slippery downhill slope to then buying fat quarters for “class samples” and so as not to be rude (it was red and white polka dots after all). I realized at Craft Day last Saturday that I had also bought brand new fabric when one lady brought me yardage I had requested from Poland. It matches my dishes so I HAD to have some. (I’ll post pictures of the table runners I’m going to make from it, just as soon as I buy new muslin to use as backing — the damask comforter covers are too heavy for the muslin-based pottery fabric.)

Which then leads me to the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I could no longer lie to myself that I’m not buying new fabrics. Two of Katja’s best friends are celebrating their birthdays on Monday. I decided that rather than buy more pink plastic sparkley things for the girls, I’d make them tiered skirts. I’d make Katja one too. Then I’d use the scraps for gym bags (as “wrapping”) that they can use when they all start school in the fall. Great idea, but I couldn’t make three au currant tiered skirts for six year-old girls out of my stash of dirty greens purples and browns, odd silk snippets, hand dyed table cloths, and leftover samples. No, I had to go to the fabric store and buy new, fashionable, yardage:

NEW fabric

(The fabric which matches my dishes is the one to the right of the pink camo.) I had actually seen the pink camoflage fabric the week before when I went to buy batting and kicked myself for making such a silly no new fabric rule. When I realized that I couldn’t follow my own rules I ran back — straight to the pink — and built the rest of the skirts around that fabric.

Here’s Katja’s skirt on:

K's tiered skirt

Here’s all three:

Girl skirts

I love that the ribbon I bought a while ago from Serukid matches so well:

Girl skirt detail

Katja matched up the appropriate skirt with it’s gift/gym bag:

Girl Skirts and Bags

And here’s how they’ll go to the party:

Birthday presents

Well, Katja’s already used her bag today for her tumbling class. She’s dying to wear her skirt to Kindergarten, but I’m not letting her until the party so as not to spoil the surprise for the other girls.

And though I can’t seem to keep from buying new fabric, I have proven to myself that I can find alternate places for fabric, and significantly reduce the amount of new fabric I buy. I’m not saving the world, but maybe I’m making it a little prettier.

21 Jun

6/20/07

I know, it’s not 6/20/07 anymore (at least not in my part of the world), but it was too dark to get a decent picture of my needle doodle last night. I have a cool flower to thread-draw, but it closed up on me. So I cheated.6/20/07

I followed the lines of a big floral print and then filled in with “bubbles.” I like bubbles, but I must say, they use up a lot of thread. Speaking of which, since I did this from the back, my foreground color was in the bobbin, which promptly ran out before I could finish. I was too lazy to load another bobbin with heavier thread, so I used a medium weight. Doesn’t look great, but I liked the exercise of following the lines for the main motif, and then free-motioning the background. (Sort of opposite of the last one where I free motioned the poppy and then used a grid as the basis for the background texture.) I could totally see marking a quilt with a main motif and then filling in with whatever. I might even be tempted to use a blue washout marker. Those scare me though. I fear that they won’t wash out, or the color will come back. Or both. Nadine assures me that she’s had no problems; and I have an issue of Quilter’s Home that reviews marking tools and recommends one of the pens. I’ll have to get one and play.

Back to the bubbles. What’s the general consensus on this pattern? Do people like to see that you retrace your lines perfectly when you have to go around a circle a second time, or is an overall pleasing pattern enough? I like a bit of variety in the size of the individual circles, but an evenness overall — no clumps of extra big bubbles on one side and clumps of little ones somewhere else. I like most of the bubbles to connect, but I’m not normally a stickler for all of them touching on all edges. Should I be? I suppose tiny bubbles like these can get away with being a little looser, while big (between a quarter and a golf ball size) bubbles would call for more precision. What do you think?