A Little Project for Valentine’s Day

I live in a wonderful neighborhood! We are far enough away from “stuff”, that we do a lot of things together. I recently started a craft group that meets once a month, for those who are inclined. One month I will be showing them a project and the next they will bring something of their own to work on. I kicked off the year with counted cross stitch – but – cross stitch on perforated paper! I started to make samplers for baby gifts on the paper many years ago when I saw a framed sampler in an antique store. This article in Victoriana magazine on the history of using paper says that it was done as early as the mid 1800’s!

You do need to hold the paper carefully, but other than that, it is the same as using fabric.

Perforated paper

I colored in some heart patterns for Valentine’s Day and copied them off. I think the thread stitched on paper look so special.

Perforated paper cross stitch

And then because so many ladies decided to come, I went to Hobby Lobby to buy some more paper. In the cross stitch aisle, I found a lot of interesting items with perforated holes, including a tiny box! What a cute little gift for someone on the 14th. Most of the group decided to do something with the box and then I discovered that there was room for 10 stitches…which meant the hearts could not have one point and be stitched in the center…

Tiny perforated paper box

So we fussed around with the colored pencils and graph paper, and finally discovered that if 4 tiny hearts were arranged symmetrically, asymmetrically, it would look perfect! (two empty stitches on the left side, three on the right…)

Heart pattern

It was a fun morning and I know a lot of ladies are finishing up their teeny, tiny projects.

P.S. Look what’s blooming today!

First daffodils

Fun Finds & News…

The other day I had an appointment in Flat Rock, NC and afterwards, drove to Hendersonville to my favorite antiques’ mall. Last time I was there, I whizzed through and didn’t find anything of interest, but this time, there were so many fun things to peruse. I thought I would share.

First up is this amazing lunch box. Not only did I love the charming motifs, but the handle was leather. The tag said it was from the 1960’s and though I am sure I did not see every lunchbox in that decade, I don’t remember any with a leather handle. (Anyone else?) How elegant. The patterns were different on both sides too… I believe I carried a red plaid lunch box that probably was my sister’s. I would have adored one like this.

1960's lunchbox

Keeping to that era, I found a cute sewing machine for the Junior Miss! I learned on my mother’s Singer Golden Touch & Sew, but I am sure I would have enjoyed using this one. I had never seen small and miniature sized sewing machines, until I taught some Japanese women to quilt when we lived in Shanghai. They all brought tiny machines – one was not electric and the wheel needed to be turned by hand.

Singer Junior Miss

And this little car made me think of one of my grandmothers. She had a (gigantic) Chrysler Imperial that was the peachy color of this tiny car! It looked so trendy parked under the car port of her Winter home in Florida. You did not want to drive with her though – she was about 5′ tall and looked through the steering wheel.

Tiny colorful car

This picture is of the (fabulous) top of a tea and coffee tin from Holland. I love the red and those of you who know me will understand why I wanted to buy it so much… I finally left it as it was quite big and I could not really find a use for it. {sigh}

Dutch tea & coffee tin

There were quite a few very nice quilts to look at. This is a yo-yo quilt, sewn together and lined for use on a bed. Quite a beauty and tons of work! For those who research and enjoy old fabric, this certainly is a treasure trove of a woman’s scraps. I photographed it for you, Kerry. Such a disappointment that you only made a table runner…

Antique yo-yo quilt

If you look carefully at this quilt, you will see that it is made of shirting fabric. It’s quite well used so it’s hard to see.When I was a docent at The Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, we had a whole show of quilts like this one. Some of the quilters attended the show and were former Southern textile mills workers, who made shirts. At the end of the day, they would “dumpster dive” and grab all the fabric scraps to make quilts. This pattern is a log cabin.

Shirting quilt

And last but not least, I have been mulling over how to present our news in a clever way, and here it is!

Retirement cross stitch

My DH Peter retired in December and so this year will be a whole new experience for us! He has worked long and hard to “provid for me in the style to which I was accustomed” as my father requested that he do when he asked for my hand in marriage. Congratulations and thanks, dear one… let the adventure begin!

 

 

 

Late Fall Colored Placemats

To my mind, Fall has two sets of colors – early Fall when everything is bright and sparkly and late Fall, when the colors are weather-worn and dull. I know many people don’t enjoy late Fall or Winter, but I do! It’s so nice to be indoors and making. (The current trendy name for creating, or crafting, which I do dislike.)

I said I was not weaving rag items for a while, but I have various guests coming who will enjoy a weaving demo and one in particular who is staying long enough and might enjoy weaving a runner or some placemats for herself. I have changed things up a bit though – I’m making some finer ones. I enjoyed the 8/2 cotton that I used for the dish cloths, so I sent for these yummy Late Fall colors from Halcyon Yarn. The color is off a bit – the tube that looks grey is actually a paper bag sort of brown.

Late Fall placemtas

With a finer warp, I need to use finer strips of fabric, so I have been cutting them 3/4″ wide. Here is placemat #1 woven and hemstitched.

Late Fall placemat

I am writing this on a cool, cloudy morning, hoping for some more rain. When I came upstairs, I pulled this cat bed out of the closet and I see Jasmine has already claimed it. I hope you are warm and cozy wherever you are!

Jasmine's basket

Jamie Wyeth’s Animals

The Greenville County Museum of Art had a show of Jamie Wyeth’s recent work and I was very anxious to see it. I grew up In Pennsylvania and we (along with the Maniacs I’m sure!) consider the Wyeth family to be ours. I’ve been to Chadds Ford several times and enjoyed all the Wyeth-related things to see and do. (GCMA claims to have the largest watercolor collection of Andrew Wyeth’s work in the world and I look forward to seeing it as it’s shown!)

Jamie Wyeth, born 1946, initially studied painting from his Aunt Carolyn. I remember first hearing about him in the late 1960’s when Jamie was asked by the Kennedy family to paint a portrait of the late President – – – at age 20. I also remember there being a lot written about him in the 1970’s when he was pals with the likes of Andy Warhol and Rudolph Nureyev in New York City. Anyway! I enjoyed the show and decided to share with you his paintings of animals. I’m lucky as the museum just recently decided to allow non-flash photography.

What is a polecat? I would have said these were skunks or badgers, but they are polecats! I thought they had foam coming out of their mouths, but it’s eggs. Perhaps while they eat the eggs, the poor hens are safe.

Polecats

Polecats

They look pretty scary in this painting. Imagine unsuspecting Aunt Carolyn wanting to pick her iris and finding these guys growling at her.

Carolyn Wyeth's Irises

Carolyn Wyeth’s Irises

I found his whites to be so interesting. Here is an angry swan with the most amazing sunrise in the distance. I like the position of the swan in the painting – he certainly looks like he’s ready to attack.

Angered Swan

Angered Swan

And more incredible whites in this painting, called The Coop, Fourth in a Suite of Untoward Occurrences on Mohegan Island. Looks like the chickens escaped the coop and the kids are trying to save them from the polecats!

The Coop

The Coop

Here is a close-up of the chickens. The whites are full of so many colors in the late day sunlight.

The Coop close-up

The Coop close-up

This fox is watching the sun set, and aren’t sunsets are so brilliant in the Winter? That amazing strip of bright color would attract anyone’s attention.

Snow Fox

Snow Fox

For the cat lovers among us is this wonderful piece with hunting cats in every position imaginable. This is Birding, Fifth in a Suite of Untoward Occurrences on Mohegan Island.

Birding

Birding

And yes, this is not an animal! I wanted to end with one of Jamie’s dramatic landscapes. This lonely house (perhaps) on Mohegan Island on a Winter’s evening sang to me. Or maybe it’s not lonely – do you see the light on in the upstairs room? I can hear the waves crashing as someone snuggles into bed and picks up a good book and perhaps a fire is burning too. The title Spindrift intrigued me and I looked it up. Spindrift is the spray from a cresting wave.

Spindrift

Spindrift

Hmong Reverse Applique’

Reverse appliqué is not a very popular technique in the quilting world, but I like to do it. In “regular” appliqué, there is a background fabric and pieces are sewn onto the top. In reverse appliqué, the background fabric is on the top and the appliqué fabric is basted on to the back. The top/background fabric is {carefully!} cut and the fabric turned under and sewn down. Well-known examples of this are the molas of Panama and Hawaiian style quilts. In this signature square for my first Baltimore Album quilt, the background is the creamy white. The lavender dotted fabric is “regular” appliqué. The dark pink fabric was basted under the white fabric, which was cut and then sewn. Then the cross stitched fabric was also basted under the white fabric… You can go on and on with this technique.

Heart reverse applique

If you’ve attended any big quilt show, you’ve seen a booth or two, stacked with lovely and intricate reverse appliqué pieces made by Hmong ladies. On a trip to Laos and Thailand many year ago, I had the great pleasure to meet a group of sewers when we were in Luang Prabong, Laos. These ladies were sitting in a field, stitching away.

Hmong quilter

These pieces are not just for pretty but used on their clothing. I don’t seem to have a photograph of anyone in that very traditional dress, but you can see that the strip of the appliqué she is working on could be sewn on the blue part of her jacket, and a wider piece might go on her sleeve. If you click on the link above or Google the Hmong, you will see that their clothing is quite incredible with the cacophony (?) of the all appliquéd pieces!

Another Hmong woman

Why am I telling you about this? Wait for the nest post to find out!

 

A New Project: Orphan Blocks Mash-Up

I have been trying to decide what quilt to piece next. Perhaps in the spirit of the New Year, I have been sorting through bins and a few boxes and looking over UFO’s. And orphan blocks. I had one idea, which I was all ready to work on and tell you about, but then I started digging around some more. There were fabrics that went with the blocks I wanted to work with and I couldn’t find them. They are some of my favorite primaries and though I did {horrors!} throw out a good bit of fabric when we moved, I knew I would never have thrown those away. So I kept digging.

Eureka! As I did more and more excavation, I found a bin of class UFO’s and there was the fabric. And as I contemplated the mess of fabrics and quilt squares scattered around me, the project idea solidified – “What about a mash-up?”.

If you take classes and don’t finish the project, or if you start your own project and then don’t finish it, perhaps you feel guilty, like I do. I won’t take a class unless I like the project, even if I want to learn a particular technique or work with a particular teacher. If I like the project, I do intend to complete the piece, but I often don’t. Peter and I move frequently enough that I do “thin” the UFO’s, but I still have more than I would like. But what to do? Some of these guys are really old and I seriously have no intention of following through with the original idea, so mashing them up seems like a great plan. So –

The UFO’s fall into three large groups color-wise. Crayon colors with a multi colored background. Crayon colors on black and white. Jewel toned colors, mainly batiks, on multi backgrounds. The largest group of squares are the crayon colors on black and whites, and here they are! It’s an interesting assortment and I am hoping to create something very fun and unique with them. I hope you’ll follow along, let me know what you think and perhaps be inspired to make a mash-up of your own! {If you do, let me know and we can link up.}

Orphan block mash-up

 

Houston’s Ruby Show: Applique’

 

Ruby Quilt Display

I happily spent most of last week in Houston at the 40th IQA Show. This was what greeted you when you walked in the main entrance! So many lovely red and white quilts, with the large ones arranged like the red and white quilt show in New York City in 2011. It was a spectacular and inspiring collection, with the smaller quilts hung nearby. I took lots of pictures of the quilts and have a few, just a few, to share with you. ;-D

This group is either appliquéd by hand or machine. First up – Becky Goldsmith of Piece O’ Cake Designs was inspired to make Tick Tock when she found the funny, retro clock fabric that you can see in many of the background squares. She said in her statement that she made the quilt by hand, without using rulers or templates. It is a charming and happy quilt, as her work always is! She usually uses quirky and unusual fabrics in her work, which cause you take a closer look.

Tick Tock

Karen Buckley and Renae Haddadin again teamed up to create this prize winner! It’s called Majestic Mosaic and is machine appliquéd by Karen and machine quilted by Renae. It is a stunning quilt and I so admire Karen’s skill. I did not count all the circular floral designs that border the quilt, but you can! The colors are striking – the gold, turquoise and pink really sparkle.

Majestic Mosaic

Breezy Garden is an award winning quilt make by Kayoko Hibino. As is typical of Japanese quilters, this entire quilt was made by hand. There is a handmade category in the show, and the Japanese quilters “own” it. I did not count this year, but the last time I did there was only one non-Japanese entry! When I lived in Tokyo, I went to many quilt shows, and was always amazed at the workmanship.

Breezy Gaarden

May Morning was designed by Jane Holihan. Don’t be fooled by the photograph – it is a miniature. I neglected to eyeball it in the show, but I bet it is about 6″ square. The design and coloring make me think of  many Chinese textiles I saw when we lived in Shanghai, and how juicy this combination of colors is!

May Morning

Beneath My Wing was made by the incredible David Taylor. The birds are hand appliquéd and then covered with rows and rows and rows of variegated, machine quilted thread. I took a class with him and was able to “inspect” one of his quilts and I could not see any seams. (It is his intention that you not notice the fabric, but see the piece as a whole.) Do check out his website as his work is amazing!

Beneath My Wing

 

Snapping & Snipping the Zinnias

I love zinnias! For me, they are the official flower of Summer. I bought two kinds to plant this year and planted them all over. I can never have too many zinnias! I always buy assorted colors because I enjoy the surprise of what comes up. I know a woman who buys the same three colors every Summer and I think “what’s the fun in that?”. When you have so many colors, cutting the flowers for arrangements is such a treat. But I’m not a Type A, for sure.

The zinnia plants are huge this year! Whether it’s the South Carolina weather or the fertilizer I apply once a week, many of them are over 5 feet tall.

Zinnia season

First I snap pictures of them. I am planning on designing some quits a la Melinda Bula and I need references. I have a quilt top using her zinnia pattern ready to quilt, but I have some ideas of my own to try.

Red zinnia

One of the zinnias is your garden variety (;-D), but the second kind I planted are called peppermint stick –  a variety I discovered years ago. It’s an heirloom that doesn’t germinate as well as the others, but I love the shibori-like look of them. Each one has its own pattern. Some have the tiniest marks

Barely Peppermint

and some have bold stripes

Bold peppermint

and this year a half and half colored one has appeared! Each flower is perfectly divided in half as is the middle. It’s a curious one for sure.

Half and half zinnia

There are some whose seeds I am going to collect for next year because their colors are so amazing. This magenta color doesn’t seem to photograph well – the color is much more intense than this…

Magenta zinnia

After photographing the flowers, then I snip them to bring indoors to enjoy. I’m wondering how many more week of Summer-like, zinnia friendly weather we have…