End of the Year Wrap-up

I don’t usually do this, a year end post, but for some reason I wanted to wrap up some of my latest projects. Unlike many people, I did not get loads and loads of things done this year. I spent a lot of time fretting and eating and drinking and read lots of books. But I’ve had a creative spurt this Fall.

This was one of my favorite projects – candy cane towels! I’d seen the pattern on Pinterest and then I discovered it was on Ravelry. I made an appointment with my local weaving store, Lofty Fiber, to have a refresher class on warping the loom. Dawne is a great teacher and it was so much fun to be with weavers and talk the talk. And I am very pleased with the results! The hand of the towels is very nice and absorbent. I may have to weave some more.

And look at all the beautiful fibers on the wall. It is so nice to have a B&M weaving store. Colors never look the same on a monitor and there is nothing like fondling fibers ! I have lots of ideas for next year.

Another weaving project that I completed was hand towels from Handwoven magazine. I started them in the Spring and it was a long warp. After washing, the fabric has a wonderful, sort of spongy texture. They will make good handtowels!

In November and December I had the great pleasure of teaching some workshops at Tryon Arts & Crafts Center in North Carolina. They are celebrating their 60th year of offering wonderful, traditional crafts classes to the area. I wish I’d found them sooner as they are a perfect fit for the type of classes that I like to offer. One workshop was how to piece hexagon or Grandmother’s Flower garden squares. The second was a lot of fun – making potholders on the wonderful Harrisville Design looms. I really enjoy making them – it’s all about color after all, and I was pleased that they did too.

When I asked if they would keep their potholders or give them away, they all replied that they were keeping them!

And I am about ready to sew binding on the dogwood quilt, that I started in May! It is a Melinda Bula pattern, and she kindly did extensive videos about how to make it.

I had all sorts of problems with the quilting – thread breaking, erratic tension, skips… In desperation, I went to Walker Quilt Company, a HandiQuilter dealer in North Carolina for some lessons. Although some of it was operator error, Andrea discovered that the bobbin was defective! I have been wondering ever since, how long it has been that way. Quilting has been wonderful ever since that visit.

So that’s that! I am sure we are all delighted to see an end to 2020.

Have a Happy New Year everyone!

Shibori for Baby!

I am not a parent or a grandparent, but who doesn’t love tiny baby clothing? So – when a local crafts school asked for items to sell at their Holiday Craft Fair, I decided to play with shibori dyeing.

I haven’t dyed clothing and I discovered that the results are quite different using knit fabric, rather than a tightly woven quilting fabric. There was a lot more bleeding than I am used to and I had to tie the dental floss or cord very tightly!


Ice dyeing is unpredictable, but such a great fun. As the ice melted, this one looked like grape jelly.

In my dyeing bucket is a big container of washers, which make the most wonderful circles. As you can see on the left, I have to use a deep container to keep the fabric submerged.

Binding marbles with rubber bands is another way to get circles. On the left hand side you can see that I used a red dye but after rinsing and washing, the color faded to a coral. Red is a tough color to achieve.

I didn’t have any dye plan but when I was looking at all the clothing, I realized that I had made an outfit! The snap tee was dyed using marbles and the onesie is ice dyed. I am not quite sure how I got that ferocious gold; yellow dyes are usually so finicky.

What parent or grandparent wouldn’t want one of a kind hand dyed clothing for their little one? At least that is what I am hoping!

Weaving ’till the Bitter End!

If you’re a weaver, you probably know that this isn’t an ideal end to a weaving project! I have been avoiding finishing up my looper rug project because I knew I was running out of warp. Silly, right? Like the warp fairy would come in the middle of the night and add 12″…. In all the years that I have been using the loopers, I never remember to add enough “take up” for the warp. (That means that the loopers are fat and take up a lot of room and thus warp.) The result is that I have two 3′ x 5′ rugs and a square-ish one. I am hoping the square one will fit in front of the bathtub in the smallest bathroom where there is really not space for a regular sized rug.

These loopers are ancient. Here is the box that was shipped to me decades ago ( circa 1988). Notice all the moving stickers and marker notes on it and …

…it is now almost empty….

As you can see, these are not the pretty loopers that Harrisville Designs sells for their potholder looms, but uneven, unattractive cuts from tube socks. They were mostly cotton, so I dyed them. These rugs wear like iron and the knots I make to weave them feel very good on your feet when you come out of the shower.

I am not sure that tube socks are still made and in any case, I have woven enough of them! The big box is gone to make room for some other fiber-y stuff. These are the last looper rugs…

 

What’s Up?

When I am feeling stressed, I have trouble concentrating. Normally I am full of ideas for projects that I want to try, but not in times like these. I need something soothing, dull, repetitive. Something I can work on, using my ear buds, listening to music that I can hum to.

When I lived in Japan, my mother became ill and a two week Home Leave turned into two months. Peter went back to work in Tokyo, and I stayed in Mom’s apartment (with my sister (ugh)). Luckily I had brought hand stitching with me; I was working on a quilt sampler for a class that I planned to teach. Every day I would go to the hospital for “my scheduled time” with Mom (my sister’s rules) and bring my sewing. I’d spread out all the pretty fabrics on her bedside table and she would twirl them around and pick out combinations for me to sew. I will never know why I cut out so many hexies before I left Tokyo, but what was going to be one square of nine hexies turned out to be the whole border of my quilt. I always think of her when I hang this one.

At the moment, I feel lethargic and frazzled and defiantly not creative! I am continuing to work on the EPP projects that I showed you in the previous post. One of the whirligigs is done and I have started another. You can see that I am auditioning a background fabric. It has been surprisingly difficult. I am planning to “quilt-as-you-go” on each square, which means that I will need lattice fabrics in between the squares. I like this hash tag fabric, but I’ll have to see if I have enough.

I have started some weaving projects. Like everyone else, I am cleaning closets and re-organizing and I came across my big bag of sock loopers. I have been carrying them from house to house for years and have decided to make a bunch more rugs and then get rid of them! I think I have found a place to donate the loom to, so this may be my last project on my big Macomber.

Dyeing anything always perks me up, so I plan to schedule a dyeing day soon.

I’ve also been “creating” a sourdough starter, which takes a bit of commitment to do. It seemed ready so I made waffles yesterday. Oh yum! This week I need to having a bread making day, though not on the same day as dyeing!

What have you all been up to?

 

A Rug Hooking Show!

I am a member of ATHA – which stands for Association of Traditional Hooking Artists! Quite a mouthful and funny to many, I know. In case you don’t, I’m writing about hooking as in Rug Hooking. Every two years ATHA has a biennial show, and recently it was held in Denver, Colorado. This was the perfect chance to head back there (we lived in Colorado for many years) to see relatives and friends and to drive, drive, drive.

Rug hooking shows are few and far between. I have no idea how many hookers there are, but not many in terms of a craft like quilting.

The most impressive entry was this behemoth! The sizes were not listed on the tags, but it was at least 5′ x 8′. Feet!  It was designed and hooked by Maynard Tischler. The piece was beautifully done and there are so many <winks> to rug hooking. I’d love to know what he does with it – is it used on the floor or hung on the wall?

This rug was amazing and full of fun details! Alice in Wonderland was designed by Margaret Master and hooked by Lynda Stout. It too was quite large.

Here is a detail so that you can see all that is happening in this great pattern! Just about every character that I could remember from the book was included.

Another rug in the category of fun childrens’ themes was Lizards and Ladders by Gail Dufrense of Goat Hill Designs. She is known for her textured hooking, amazing color and unusual designs.

I was quite taken by this little piece. Anything that can be pulled through the backing fabric (burlap, linen,cotton) can be used to achieve wonderful texture. I am not very good at that. In Three Flowers, designed by Bea Brock and hooked by Helen Mar Parkin, you can see how each flower is hooked differently. I will be saving this photo to inspire me.

This sweet little guy, Gimli, really caught my eye! His warm brown color is so striking against the dark blue background – he really pops! No wonder he’s so beautifully hooked – he’s designed and hooked by Sally Kallin, who owns Pine Island Primitives .

Vintage Blooms was designed and hooked by Theresa Rapstine. Doesn’t it have the look of an antique runner? The colors have a lot to do with that, but the other reason is that the wool strips look to be hand ripped.

Here is a close up so that you can see what I mean… So many wonderful colors and types of wool are included and I bet those wide strips feel so good on bare feet. I’d have this rug beside my bed. I rarely use a wide cut of fabric, but this rug and several others have me thinking about it.

While attending the show, I met a longtime blog buddy, Laura, of High On Hooking fame. We forgot to take pictures of us, but do check out her blog. She hooks a lot more than I do and uses some interesting materials.

It was a very nice show and thanks to all the ATHA members who made it possible.

Ta-dah!

Handwoven Hand Painted Silk Shawl

Here is the completed shawl!

In case you didn’t read the post before this one, here is one of the painted warps that I made with Neal Howard at the Southeast Fiber Forum.

After consulting my notes and emailing Neal a few times for added support, I got the warp on the loom. It was pretty exciting to see it all spread out and admire the colors!

I wove several tests to check the sett (how close the warp threads are) and then unwoven them. The warp was not long enough to weave a test and cut it off and re-tie it. The weekend was rather hectic and I didn’t really haver a plan…

I wove to the bitter end and there was enough warp for the length that I wanted.

And here is a fun part – unwinding the woven fabric!

The next step was to finish off the ends in some fashion. When I wear a scarf I always fiddle with the fringe and I did feel that this shawl wanted to have an elegant ending. I’ve never made twisted fringe before and it was quite fun to do.

Then into the sink it went. It would seem that many of us are nervous about silk! It is incredibly strong and durable but it is also delicate. I washed it with shampoo in warm water and rinsed in warm as well. Neal informed us that silk will keep its wrinkles when washed in cold water. It was surprisingly heavy and took some time to dry on towels on the back porch, though it didn’t help that it was a humid South Carolina day.

Here is a close-up of the weave, which is a plaited twill. The pattern was very fun to weave and easy to see treadling mistakes.

The details for the weaving nerds:

Henry’s Attic Cascade Silk 3/2

15 epi

Pattern: Plaited Twill from A Weaver’s Book of 8 Shaft Patterns by Handwoven page 101

I’m delivering it on Thursday to Greenville Center for Creative Arts for the Annual Member’s Showcase. It’s always exciting to see your work in a gallery. If you live in the area, the show will be up for 6 weeks and most of the artwork is for sale.

Southeast Fiber Forum – April 2019

April found me at Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts to participate in the Southeast Fiber Forum. I discovered this group a few months ago and they have gatherings every other year. I haven’t been to a weaving workshop in many, many years, but I was intrigued by a workshop called WTF. Wow That’s Fun was a silk painting workshop!  I’d never worked with silk and thought this would be great.

The Arrowmont campus is tucked behind all the madness of the main drag of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Even in April, the street was always crowded with tourists. Though there are dormitories, I stayed at a hotel within walking distance. I don’t do dormitories anymore…. I should also mention that meals were included with our weekend fee and they were delicious! The dining room was a great spot to relax, wind down and get to know the other participants. I really enjoyed talking with weavers again!!!

Here is our studio for the weekend. There was lots of space and so many supplies to play with.

Our instructor, Neal Howard, weaves amazing silk clothing and scarves. Check out her work here .  She did several demos for us and was willing and able to answer all of our questions. I believe that all of us had dyed before, but most of us were new to silk and warp painting (or space dyeing) and felt timid about handling silk.

The photo above shows Neal’s warp with one layer of dyes on it. We all gasped when she dunked the whole thing into another color…such a dramatic change!

It was such a great class! Everyone had such a different take on color and ideas on what they planned to weave. Unfortunately I am only in touch with one woman from the workshop and I am looking forward to seeing her finished scarves. Here are a bunch of warps drying outside on Saturday afternoon.

The fiber weekend was Thursday through Sunday. Saturday night after the evening program, all the studios were open so that we could see what all the classes were doing. Here are my two warps. The left one is for a shawl and the right one is for a scarf. Our class probably had the least interesting display because it was a process class rather than a product one.

The other workshop that I debated taking was called Warp it! Paint it! Weave it! with Kathie Roig. I did warp painting years ago with the wonderful Randy Darwall at Penland School of Crafts. The catch here was that you had to bring a loom with you, and at the time I did not have a portable loom. Below you see some of Kathie’s work. What I found so surprising was that they used paint rather than dye! I assumed that the fabrics would be stiff and opaque, but the opposite was the case. These are double weave fabrics and the colors just sing!

Here is a warp that’s been painted and is drying. The loom is out of the picture and you can see the reed in front. When the warp dried, it was be wound on the loom. In the far right background of the picture, you can see that someone has started to weave their warp. The gallery on Kathie’s website shows the lovely fabrics that the class wove.

It was a terrific weekend and I thank everyone at the Southeast Fiber Forum for planning it!

 

And a Million More…

Last weekend I hoped to be teaching a workshop using equilateral triangles, but months ago when as I was choosing dates, I did not notice that it was Easter weekend. (I needed 3 people and had 2!) It was another pattern/class I had offered before and was not enamored with. For the class sample I sewed these pieces together in an impressionistic way. It was fun to play with the colors and values but not practical for students with no fabric stashes. I ran out of steam sewing them but I will get back to them one day.

While searching around, I stumbled onto the pattern called Thousand Pyramids. What a wonderful way to sew together masses of triangles. If you Google them online, you will find so many fabric versions of this pattern, from vintage to modern. I think I’m in the middle with my black and white backgrounds. Each pattern pyramid includes a print with a small all over design as well as a colored fabric that reads as a solid for the background. This top is about done as the scratchy looking black and white fabric is all cut . Sometimes it’s nice to have a restriction.

Here’s another variation that I quite like. I chose a black fabric with lots of little multicolored hearts on it and am piecing it with two values of plain fabrics left over from a jelly roll that I bought for a lone star. I have a lot of strips still and can share them with anyone who might want tp piece it this way.

For the sessions this Summer, I am offering Grandmother’s Flower Garden and Tumbling Blocks again, so I don’t need to work on samples. Tumbling Blocks are made from 60 degree diamonds and my new favorite variation of that is this Seven Sisters pattern. The question I asked my Instagram buddies was, “What do you think of a hexagonal quilt?”. It’s about 60″ at the widest bit and it does look nice draped on the back of the couch. I will investigate how to fill in the edges and see what that will look like. So…what do you think?

The Summer class listing online is not “up” yet, but if you are local and interested, check it out here.

 

A Thousand Tiny Stitches…

… and the development of a quilt class!

Although I have been quiet here for a long while, I’ve been busy. I finally decided that I’d like to offer some quilting classes at the art center where I volunteer. Developing new classes of any sort takes a lot of time, energy and thought, but even more so when the samples are hand sewn. I finally got myself in gear and have offered several workshops at Greenville Center for Creative Arts  and much to my delight, most have had enough students to run! I wasn’t at all sure – at the moment, most of the classes are of the fine art variety and who knew if anyone would be interested in “sewing”. My assumption is that “my audience” does not have machines and are beginners, so the classes have been hand sewing ones. And I’ve been correct so far. These quilts can be called geometric, charm or one patch designs and are frankly easier to sew by hand. I do hope to lure some “seasoned” quilters.

When I think up a class idea, I start to madly sew. Proposals must be submitted long before the workshop is advertised and I’ve gotten skilled at making enough squares so that it looks like I have an entire quilt in the photographs that I submit!

Here are the offerings so far:

Hexagons!

If you follow me, you know I’m crazy about hexagons. There’s not much new to show you, but I did do some piecing with half hexagons to add to the design choices. They are so wonderfully dimensional and modern looking for those who think that hexies look like a pattern their grandmother made.

60 Degree Diamonds!

Some years ago, I offered a class using these diamonds and it did not run. They can be made into the vintage pattern called Baby Blocks or Tumbling Blocks, but although I admire those quilts, I didn’t enjoy piecing them for a quilt. I have used them for pillows and squares in a sampler type quilt.

Thank heavens for Pinterest; I found this version with Baby Blocks rotating around a plain (dark) star. It’s an interesting pattern because you see both the stars and the blocks. I tend to like things to coordinate or have a rule and for some reason these are random enough that I have just been piecing blocks and sewing them to the stars.

As I was stitching away one day, I remembered that the pattern called Seven Sisters uses 60 degree diamonds, and I started researching those patterns online. Bingo! I had found a pattern I love stitching! Here is one square so you can see why it’s called Seven Sisters. I do have a rule for each square. I choose a multi-colored batik fabric and that is the star in the middle. Then I choose some of my hand dyed fabrics to make the remaining six stars. Repetition is not my strong suit and using different colors in each star piece keeps me amused.

And here is the quilt top so far. Can you see the underlying pattern – ha! – it’s a hexagon! My design dilemma with this quilt will be how to end it. The initial plan was to piece seven sisters of seven sisters, but I don’t think I want the quilt to be a hexagon. Stay tuned on that…

… and for more stitching to come!

Nick is Home for Christmas!

Nick has spent the last year at Island Quilters located on Hilton Head Island. He evidently traveled with Owner Beth to several quilt shows and talks, though he hasn’t said much about that. I must thank Beth for giving me the pattern and many of the supplies. Fusing is not my favorite thing to do, but he was fun to make.

After lots of measuring and engineering, Peter got Nick hung in the great room! It is so fun to come into the room and see his funny self. I’m not sure the reason, but this is the first time we have ever hung a quilt over the fireplace. Next year I have several quilts that can rotate in this area.

Let the celebrations begin!