29 Sep

I’m Done With The Other Woman

The Other Woman

I couldn’t put her down until she was finished. The idea for this one (in The Army Wife series) came to me during that fantastic week with creative friends in New York. Once home, I gathered supplies and jumped right in. This is not a quilt. Perhaps it could be classified as an embroidery. Sewn from vintage sheets, it is a work of textile art.

“The Other Woman”  71″ x 50″ 2001 (click to see a little bigger)

I don’t know if the saying, If the army wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued you one is common outside the military, but inside it sure is.

Granted, the military has made great strides in caring for it’s family members. In the 16 years that I’ve been an army wife, I’ve seen vast improvements in services to help families cope with high operations tempo, deployments, and distance from natural support systems. However, the military is still a vocation that demands much from it’s members, and even the spouses with access to the most will still acknowledge that they often play second fiddle to That Woman: the job.

17 Jun

Be Strong

I gave a hint of this, the latest installation in my series, “The Army Wife,” a while back. I thought I was done, but something wasn’t quite right. I wasn’t sure what it was though.

Luckily, I have some very good online friends who I respect, who will give me their honest reactions to my work. They pointed out a few things that didn’t quite work for them either. Ah, now I could put a finger on it.

I bought more yarns, removed and completely re-did the original ties, and removed the red writing after all. I am much happier with the apron now. And so now I can share it with a wider audience.

“The Army Wife: Be Strong, Always” 2011, Kristin La Flamme

With service members deployed so often and for so long, with the dangers inherent in the job, with frequent moves undermining traditional support systems, it it imperative that military spouses be strong — ALWAYS. It’s not written, or said out loud, but it is assumed and expected.

06 Dec

Inspiration Sun, no, Monday/Tuesday

I’ve been piddling my time away. Getting stuck at the computer and not really accomplishing much, or at least much tangible. So, I’m a day late on Inspiration Sunday, and I’ve got no lines drawn. I wasn’t in a line-y mood today. I’ve been coming up short on the inspiration photo thing too, It’s not that I’m not inspired, it’s just that inspiration is not always in photo format. Sometimes it is, but I don’t have a camera with me. Sometimes it’s there, but I don’t recognize it until later — after I’ve had a chance to digest it, or attach it to something meaningful. Sometimes, the inspiration is just not a tangible thing. It is as often as not, a feeling, or emotion. As I work on my Army Wife Apron series, the inspiration is all about a state of mind. War Sucks was definitely inspired by a feeling.

Anyway, my inspiration this time around was one of those back of the mind ones. Wrapping things in leaves is somewhat common in Hawaii. Laulau is a dish steamed in a leaf wrapper. Offerings in a leafy pouch are left at sacred places. So when I wanted to sew up some samples with the taro themed fabric I designed, I chose a pouch shape rather than a clutch or a tote. Not that my work is sacred like a ho’okupu, but I think it would make a nice gift (makana).

And, on the subject of gifts, my Quilt Mom Gerrie sent me a fun one “just because.”

She visited a wonderful arts festival and thought of me when she saw this glass mushroom (by Kurumi Conley). She sent me some fun fabric too. Yay!

I sent a gift too. My friend Deborah not so recently relocated and I wanted to welcome her to her new home. Obviously a house quilt was in order, but I decided a pillow would be cozier than wall art.

She’s reported that it’s jazzing up a somewhat boring beige couch (as opposed to the boring white couch at my house where I took this picture).

01 Nov

Twelve by Twelve “Rusty”

Our latest Twelve by Twelve challenge was a rusty palette. I like rust and green. I had ideas. I let them simmer.

I pondered fabrics. I felt good about it all. I had time.

And then I didn’t! The last few days have been a marathon of stitching and beading. But, here it is, pretty much as I had envisioned it two weeks ago.

For the whole piece, it’s inspiration, and eleven other wonderful interpretations of the “rusty” them, go check out the Twelve by Twelve blog!

19 Feb

New Tool

I’m not one to go out and buy the latest gadget. I believe I can make just as wonderful things with a rotary cutter, rectangular ruler, and home sewing machine, or a needle, thread, fabric scraps and junky paper, as I could with a long arm machine, pre-cut templates, specialty cutters, and colorful pins. However, my 44 year old, hyperopic eyes aren’t so good at threading needles anymore and the lovely lady at our local stitching shop, Fiddlesticks, suggested this little goody:

Needle Threader

It has got to be the best thing since sliced bread! It’s too big for quilting betweens, but it will thread just about anything into just about any other needle. And it doesn’t pull apart after two uses like those needle threaders with the thin wire loop. I love it, love it, love it. And how do I know I love it so much? I’ve been using it every day for the last several weeks on my 12×12 “Blue and White with a Touch of Black” challenge.

Delft Back

Our reveal day is on 1 March. In the mean time, this is the back before I faced it.

27 Jan


I finished another one! This one started as one idea about four years ago, got abandoned, and then came back to life last year in this form:


Hale’aina (ha-lay aye-nah) is hawaiian. Hale means house and aina means “of the land.” In the old days, the hale’aina was the house where the women ate. Today, it usually refers to a restaurant. But as most hawaiian language also contains a “secret” meaning, it could be interpreted as “the house that nourishes.” Hale’aina also happens to be the name of the street we live on.

Women, home, nourishment, where we live — how could I not do something inspired by this? I already had the houses (appliqued to a duvet cover — more comforts of home) with collaged floral roots, so I decided to just take it further. I added food themed fabrics, and once I found one with a spam musubi the whole thing shifted into whimsical and allowed me to add other things like a pizza button, a pumpkin bead, two flounder, and a cocktail olive. It’s a house chock full of food, love, hope, fun, and dreams.

On the technical, or construction side, this is all about the contrast between the plain corduroy areas and the richly embellished house and roots area. I had fun laying it on. Every time I thought I could stop, I found another place to add something. This one is very rewarding up close, and I dare anyone not to be tempted to touch it.

The quilt is 25″x37.” Hale’aina is the working title. I’m going to ask a hawaiian speaking acquaintance if it calls for something more poetic. It’s obviously not a hawaiian quilt, so maybe I’m pushing the boundaries already, but that’s at least where the inspiration came from.

26 Jan

Roots to Grow, Wings to Fly

I think it’s done.

Rooots to growsm

“Roots to Grow, Wings to Fly” 2009 by Kristin La Flamme 22″x40″

I actually finished the stitching in November or December, but it’s taken me this long to get stretcher bars to mount it on and get a feel for the finished piece. I hung it on the wall to let it sink in, and it’s still there — which I take as a good sign since the last thing I hung up I took down the next day.

This one’s been a long time in the making. I first heard the saying “Wenn die Kinder klein sind, gib ihnen Wurzeln, wenn Sie gross sind, gib ihnen Flügel” when my daughter entered German kindergarten. It resonated with me. I later remembered it when I started adding roots to houses in my work. It translates to “When the children are young, give them roots; when they are older give them wings.” Somehow in my brain it tied in with my dream of a home with roots. The house may not exactly represent the children, but for them to have those roots, I think they need to have a home. And, what grown child hasn’t taken some piece of home with them when they’ve flown the coop?

The dishtowel that is the ground for this is one I’ve had for many years, having first bought it at a flea market thinking I’d use it in my kitchen. I later decided it would make a perfect fabric to sew or embroider on. It speaks to the homeyness of what I’m trying to communicate. (I don’t know who ET is, but I’m comfortable with them adding “history” to my art.) Added to that is random fabric, old lace from an ancestor, and a little bit of knitting. Holding it all together and blending the pieces, is quite a bit of stitch, which I seem to be incorporating more and more into my work. You may notice that the dishtowel is hand quilted onto the background fabric. I first sewed it by machine, but the voice was wrong. The piece didn’t speak to me, it YELLED that it needed to be done by hand. I think it’s important to listen to one’s media.

23 Nov

Craft Eugene

Our visit to Oregon is primarily to spend Thanksgiving with Grama and Grandpa and the step-family, but there’s crafty stuff too. Yesterday my mom, the kids, and I went to the weekend market’s Holiday artisan edition. Lots of good jewelry, ceramics, clothing, glass work and more to admire. The kids came home with sparkly stuffed dragons.

Last night my mom pulled out some old family quilts. I really liked this one. It is all hand sewn and quilted and she guesses it was made in the 1800s. All four quilts are in disrepair due to many many years of love. They are much too delicate for me. But, don’t be surprised if I sew up something obviously inspired by this simple, graphic, design.

Today we divided into boys and girls — the boys went to the running store and the girls hit the fiber shops!

First stop: Mindy’s for Valdani perle cotton and whatever other wonderful goodies I could find. The store is in an old chicken farm/factory converted to a mall and only three blocks from my mom’s house. It’s filled with wool and floss for needlepoint, but there’s enough high quality ribbons, buttons, and trims as well to appeal to a broad range of sewists and crafters.

After Mindy’s we went to Soft Horizons. I had a list, but more importantly, I just wanted to fondle the luscious yarns. What’s not to love about a victorian home stuffed with cotton, silk and wool? They’ve got a ball winder and swift in the back room for customers to use and Katja was more than happy to be my official skein-to-ball winder.

Thanks to Kelly’s comment yesterday, Piece by Piece was the next stop. Piece by Piece is bright and fresh and oozes happy quilting. Kelly is also very nice and friendly, as one would expect from a quilter (and is working on a wonky red and aqua log cabin quilt that I am inspired by). I had no plans to buy fabrics, but I spotted a bolt of my all-time favorite Kaffe Fasset “paperweight” in brown right away. As long as I was going to replenish my paperweight, I might as well pick up some of those nice blue circles too, and hey, those blue bubbles would look nice with some fabric I have at home earmarked for a bag, and that splatty bug fabric is just too cool to pass up…..

Yup, my stash is now up to date.

After a quick lunch stop (oh, how happy I am to find that every eatery has fresh greens on the plates and identifiable ingredients), we closed out our craft supply adventure at Harlequin Beads. All I really needed was ends for some velvet cord purchased at Mindy’s to use as a necklace for my Starborn pendant at home. It doesn’t hurt to look though…

This time, it was the kids who walked out with a bag full. Katja chose a lampwork crocodile and I knew her brother would want one too. At home we made jewelry for their Nintendo DSs. I have to give props to Harlequin — not only do they have a big shop full with every bead and beading supply imaginable, but they gave Katja a little bag and told her that any beads she found on the floor were hers for free. I could browse in peace, and she left happy with a little bag of sparkly goodness.

And did I mention we walked to all these shops?! I absolutely love both the convenience of urban living and the wonderful creative vein running through Eugene.