New/Old Rug Hooking Project

I do like to hand quilt, but doing the same hand motion repeatedly can lead to pain and carpal tunnel, so I thought hooking would be a nice break. The project I talked about doing in this post turns out not to be something to do while watching the Super Bowl and the Olympics. Soooo I dug around for something else, and I came across this rug which I have started twice! The designs originally were for first time hookers and are reminiscent of sampler quilts that I have done over the years. I liked the idea of a sampler rug and if I teach beginning hooking again, I can point at the squares and ask “which one would you like to do?”. Teachers of any sort of craft end up with a lot of (useless) samples. Here you can see students working on the heart and flower pattern in the middle row on the right.

When I began the rug, we lived in Illinois and I was into dark colors. They don’t appeal to me now (in South Carolina). So I ripped out the squares I had done and started hooking some marbelized dyed fabrics, which I think are so fun.

Then I stopped because I wasn’t happy with this square – is it too busy? I’ve decided to try another square and mull this one over.

You can see in the picture of the whole rug that there are empty squares between the patterned ones. And of course, in the tradition of these sort of antique rugs, I need to decide what to hook in the alternate squares. I looked at rugs for sale online and stole these to show you and consider for myself.

This is a beauty!

Here is a real log cabin look.

Stripes would be the easiest and use lots of wool strips up. This makes me think of a runner in my grandparents’ house that I’ve wonderred about since I began hooking. I wish I knew if it was a hand made one.

And the caption on this wonderful design said it is made of vintage ladies wool bathing suits! I really like the scallop-y nature of this filler…

Lots of fun choices!

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! Peter is starting to prepare the game day food as I write this…

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Hand Quilt Along…hmmmm….

Hand quilting is slow and steady work. And when you match the quilting thread to the background as I usually do, it is very hard to see. In last month’s post, I told you that I have divided the quilt into quadrants so that I can see the progress I am making. The center of the quilt was done when I pulled it out of the closet. I have completed this quadrant – can you see the line I drew? (I just discovered that I can mark up photographs with the new High Sierra upgrade…)

Now I will be moving over to the next area. Perhaps you can actually see my quilting on the right hand side?

This is such a great time of year to hand quilt! The temperatures in northwestern South Carolina have been so cold! Night time has been in the teens and the daytime hits freezing – – – very cold for this area. The quilt draped all over me keeps me quite comfortable as I stitch. The cats are happy in their buttercup beds, for the most part, so I continue to make progress.

For those of you not so interested in my hand quilting report, here are some New Year updates on what I am doing! I have put away my Christmas cross stitch project as I am not in the mood and I have an issue to deal with. With the upcoming NFL playoff games and the Olympics next month, there will be lots of time for hand work. To rest my quilting fingers, I am tempted to resume hooking this project, by Angela Foote, from several years ago…

And here is a teaser for you – I am auditioning colors for my next quilt project. Can you guess what pattern I will be making?

 

Here are the other quilters participating in the quilt along. Do check them out and leave an encouraging comment!

Kathy, Lori, Margaret, Kerry, Emma, Tracy, Deb, Connie, Susan , Jessisca  ,  SherryNanette, Sassy and Edith

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The Very Wonderful Nick!

As I have mentioned often, my friend Beth now owns Island Quilters on Hilton Head Island. We became friends when we were both posted in Singapore with our husbands. We shared so many common interests and I helped her learn how to quilt. In January I went to the store to talk with the customers about my great passion for hexagons, specifically English Paper Pieced ones. I was wandering around the store the day before and she asked if I had heard of Laura Heine. I said no and she said, I have a pattern of hers that I think you would like, and she handed me Nick. We both love Santas and as we were oooohing and aaaahing over him I blurted out “Shall I make a store sample for you?”. She immediately said “yes!”. I have been wondering ever since if I was set up, but no matter, I was delighted to have that assignment.

I have done some fused quilts over the years, but Nick is made using a collage technique. The pattern is basically a coloring book page – Nick is an outline – and the quilter is free to fill him in as desired. Laura Heine evidently came up with this technique to use up some of the many floral fabrics that she had in her store. I used to buy florals, but now they are not the fabrics I gravitate to. Kaffe Fassett’s fabrics are perfect for this technique and I did snag some of Beth’s scraps.

Because I knew I wanted to share Nick with you and because I suspected Beth would like me to talk with her customers about Nick, I took a lot of pictures. I hope you will enjoy seeing him emerge.

Fusible web works much like double stick tape. You peel one side off and iron it on the fabric. You peel the other side off when you are feeling ready to place the piece. (The fabrics in the photos that are curled still have the backing on.) Fusibles have improved a lot over the years and now they are more like Colorforms and can be moved around a lot before permanently fusing them to the background. I started with his face and I did some auditions…

If you look at this picture, you can see that there are 5 areas of white – the hat trim, his eyebrows, his mustache and his beard. I worked hard to make them different. The hat trim is creamy with a small red and green print. His eyebrows have a white newsprint fabric, his mustache is a very white and black print and his beard is an assortment of creamy prints. I even found a white poinsettia print in a quilt store that worked in his beard and on his face.

Then I started to fill in, up and down and up and down. It’s hard to decide when to stop.

This is what the studio looked like for several weeks! It is very hard to be neat and tidy and it’s one of many reasons I am grateful to have my own space.

 

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I did a little talk/demo at Island Quilters recently. I told the ladies to take one of my business cards and e-mail me their Nick, done or in progress, for the next blog post. Ladies, I am waiting! We all want to see your wonderful version of Nick.

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Chalk Paint Chairs

After moving to South Carolina, our brown upholstered dining room chairs seemed heavy and out-of-place. Though I wanted to re-upholster them, the cost of the fabric and labor was way too high and they weren’t particularly special chairs. There is a chalk paint store in the area, and after I took an introductory class with them, I decided to paint unfinished chairs. The instructor told us about an Amish furniture store which was full of choices for straight-backed chairs. After spending a good amount of time dithering about which chairs to buy, I decided on six different styles! Somewhere I had seen an old farmhouse kitchen where mismatched chairs sat around a big table. Though there are many antique stores nearby, new chairs seemed a better option. This was all about a year ago and the unfinished chairs with cloth seats, sat in the diningroom looking forlorn.

Sometimes I make quick decisions about fabrics and colors, but not this time. Finally I found an ikat fabric that I liked – with watery, soft colors.

And then the paint color debate started in my head. For a long while I thought I would be clever and paint each chair a different color and collected paint samples. I came to my senses a few weeks ago and decided that one color would suffice. I went back to the chalk paint store which sells Annie Sloan’s brand. They have a large selection of colors, but nothing appealed to me. I didn’t feel like mixing their paint either, so I started to Google. It turns out that chalk paint is very easy to make and Lowe‘s had a recipe and all sorts of good information. It’s Plaster of Paris and water and plain paint and that meant that I could simply choose a color I liked and make it myself. (And it was lots less expensive.)Why chalk paint? It is very thick and goes on easily. There are far fewer drips and these are easy to spot. Years ago when I painted furniture for our apartment, I could not find a finish that I liked; it was always too shiny and then when I sanded it, it looked – well – sanded. Chalk paint has a dull finish and then when the finishing wax is applied, it can be rubbed to make it shine a bit. There are all sorts of amazing techniques one can do, but I just did plain painting. And I’m very pleased with the result.

Next I am debating painting a red leather recliner…. Have any of you tried chalk painting on leather?

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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