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!

Quilt Block Exchanges & CompuServe

I have been thinking about quilt block exchanges, which used to be a very popular activity for quilters. My friend Louann reminded me of the Christmas one I ran in Evergreen Colorado and ever since I have been looking for it! It’s somewhere but I don’t know where.

Flash back to 1990’s. I was weaving and spinning and dyeing. When my DH Peter informed me that we were moving to Singapore, I realized that big floor looms were not going to be reasonable items to move around the world. So oh gee, I started to learn how to quilt. I was so lucky that  Karen Buckley lived nearby and I took a lot of classes with her. And bought a lot of books. And began a subscription to the now defunct Quilters Newsletter Magazine. And collected all the supplies I felt I needed and in 1993 we moved to a small apartment on the 21st floor.

Before we left for Asia, Peter showed me the CompuServe Forums on our computer. I was not much interested or impressed. It took quite awhile to upload and I didn’t see the need for the content. Flash back to Singapore! There I was all alone and I realized that CompuServe was just the ticket! I joined the quilting group and it was wonderful. We were from all over – the U.S., expats like me in various countries and “real” foreign quilters. Paying for dial-up was very expensive for us and in China we had to apply for a license to even have a computer. It was such a treat to take my morning coffee to the computer after Peter left for work and download the forums. During the day I would read and reply to them and upload them at night. Most parts of Asia are 12 hours ahead of the U.S. so it worked out well.

The quilting group was full of organizer types and someone came up with the idea of a block exchange. The first one I participated in was Christmas blocks. There were two groups – one which made 12.5″ blocks and the one I chose, which made 6.5″ blocks. (And it was so much fun, that I did it for two years.) Though the rules can vary, generally each person makes a certain number of blocks, sends them to the organizer who divides them all up and returns them to each participant. So for instance, I made 12 blocks (plus one for me which I kept), sent them to the organizer nad she sent back 12 new blocks. It’s sort of like a birthday gift. I must say that the blocks varied in quality and if you were buddies with the organizer, you could persuade her to send you the “good ones”! After receiving the squares and choosing the ones I wanted, it was great fun to try to put them together to make a nice design.

The next exchange I participated in was called “Near and Far”. Each person was supposed to make a block (12.5″) that represented where they lived and had to include some green and white fabric. This is one of my favorite quilts as it reminds me of all the fun ladies I “knew” for a time. And even without knowing the people involved, I am sure you can tell where they lived at that moment in time. We did it two years in a row.

For the first year I made Singapore Island maps.The fish are stamped and the island is pieced and then hand appliqued.

The next year we lived in Shanghai and I appliqued a flower that looked like some cut paper pictures that I’d bought.

In Tokyo, I organized a quilt block exchange and it did not go well. When we lived there, somehow a group of Japanese quilters tracked me down. We got together often so that I could teach them what I knew. They thought the quilt block exchange was a fun idea and were eager to participate. Somehow, despite having a good Japanese friend who very carefully translated, the ladies did not understand. This was a Japanese American exchange, with the theme being flowers and I co-opted some of my American quilting friends. Each American quilter dutifully made and sent me 6 squares.  From the Japanese ladies I collected one, or two or three squares…. What a mess! The Japanese ladies were still confused but pleased to have a few squares and the American quilters were annoyed to have a few squares. I still have done nothing with the few I kept and mine is not among them. I made a lot of my design to compensate for the lack of Japanese ones and I can’t find any. There are some real beauties in this bunch.

Peter and I were talking about CompuServe recently, and he reminded me that CompuServe was not “the Internet”! I’d forgotten that detail. It was such a wonderful spot for me and the women I “met” online were so helpful and supportive. Here is an interesting article to remind you of how great CompuServe was.

Have any of you done quilt block exchanges? Or were you pioneers on CompuServe? Any interest in a quilt block exchange?

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!

Hand Piecing Workshops!

Although I’ve been quiet on a daily dose, I’ve been working! It’s been a year full of deadlines for classes and workshops. All things that I wanted to do, but it’s kept me very, very busy.

I finally got myself in gear and offered two Summer workshops at Greenville Center for Creative Arts, where I volunteer. Much to my delight, I got enough students to run the class! I wasn’t at all sure – at present, most of the classes are of the fine art variety and who knew if anyone would be interested in making quilts.

The first workshop I offered was Hand Pieced Quilts – Grandmother’s Flower Garden. This will be no surprise to any of you who have been followers for a while – I love to sew hexies! I had a lot of samples and ideas and it was perhaps a bit much for the five women who hadn’t had much exposure to the world of quilting.

Olivia was a very enthusiastic sewer. She told us that she sewed a lot and enjoyed making dolls to sell. I am confident that she will get a throw made with the speed that she sews.

Sarah designed a very striking flower, didn’t she? It is fun to see how people put together fabrics.

The second workshop was Hand Pieced Quilts: 60 degree diamonds (or tumbling blocks or baby blocks). I have offered this before and wasn’t very enthusiastic about it. Though I like baby blocks, I’ve never enjoyed sewing them.

As I prepared for the class, I perused Pinterest and was reminded that a setting for 60 degree diamonds is called the Seven Sisters pattern. I noodled around with that and discovered that I really liked this version! (Perhaps because it makes a giant hexagon….)

Here is a starry, blocky setting for the diamonds. I like this variation as well.

Just about everything needed is included in my workshops. When working with new sewers, I don’t want them to have to run around and buy a lot of supplies. The quilt patterns I am offering are traditionally scrap quilts and goodness knows that I have a lot of fabrics! It’s been fun sharing my stash and seeing others incorporate the fabric in their own work.

I am very fond of holiday themed quilts so I was delighted to see that Shawn brought a Halloween selection to make baby blocks.

It’s been interesting to offer quilt classes to novices. In the past, I have taught in quilt stores and generally my students have had some sort of experience or exposure to quilting. Most of my students at the Art Center were very, very new! In the Grandmother’s Flower Garden class, I presented way too much material and I am learning to scale back what I initially present and see where the students want to go.

Next up; workshops that I hope to offer this Winter. ;-D

Sauder Village Rug Hooking Week – the class!

Though I love looking at hooked rugs, Archbold OH is a long way to drive. Several years ago I went to Sauder Village and took some workshops. I’ve been hoping ever since to find a class I liked and was delighted to see this one by Ellen Banker – The Unconventional Rug Hookers Guide to Samplers. If you read Rug Hooking Magazine, you have seen her work and read her articles. I’m a big fan so I got signed up.

As part of the class, all the hookers {I know many of you are smiling…} got a sampler to practise on. Ellen demonstrated a variety of techniques and then we hooked them on our sampler. Another project to be continued…

For the next part of the class, we could work on a design of our own or use one of three sampler designs offered by Ellen. Most of us decided to work on an Ellen Sampler. {Though I do have a sampler design, I thought it best to work on Ellen’s and play with mine another time.} Here is one of Ellen’s sampler designs….No. 10. I debated getting this one as I very much like the big carrot and the bunnies. Aren’t the carrots delicious looking?

But in the end, I chose Sampler No. 3 because I like the flower pot and all of Ellen’s quirky birds. I’ve been trying to hook a bit each day and have been playing with the flowers and stems and leaves. The birds are under design review right now. There is a lot of background and I am also wondering if I might add a border. I have done lots of counted cross stitch samplers and they usually have a border. {Less background to hook!}

Should you be interested, Ellen has written a book, Hooked on Words.

As well as a how-to guide, it’s filled with wonderful and quirky samplers she has made. She also researched rugs hooked by other artists and so many inspiring examples are included. An interesting rug often has a story behind it and Hooked on Words is a good read!

My Design Wall is Full!

Here is what my design wall looks like today! There is a lot going on…

The right hand side has to do with my two upcoming workshops at Greenville Center for Creative Arts. The first, covering hexies and Grandmother’s Flower Garden is on Saturday. Six pointed stars is in July. Click here to get more info.

At the top right, you can see a quilt emerging, made up of (hand pieced) half hexagons. There are many ways to sew them together, but this is by far my favorite. It’s such a strong graphic design. The two plain colored areas in each block are my hand dyed fabrics and I have them strewn all over the floor as I pick them out.

The black stars in the middle are six pointed stars hand pieced in a Seven Sister sort of design. Below them is a pattern, first published in Godey’s Ladies Book in the mid 1800’s, called bricks. It is also a 60 degree diamond, but the “sides” of the brick shape are elongated.

The left hand side of the board is devoted to a deconstructed lone star. Using Moda precut fabrics, I have cut out stacks of 2.5″ x 5.5″ fabrics to sew on a Quiltsmart base. I hope to be giving a talk about how to make this amazing design at Island Quilters this Fall. Lots more coming about this project!

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Weave a Potholder!

About a year ago, I bought an inexpensive loom at a big box store. It was not called a potholder loom and when I opened the box I realized why – the loopers are nylon and would melt if gotten too hot! The loom is smaller than I remembered and I had forgotten how much the fabric “shrinks” after it is taken off the loom. It results in about a 5″x5″ square. Really too small for getting hot items out of the oven. The colors are very pretty and it certainly will work well as a mug rug.

Recently I broke down and bought a big Harrisville Designs loom. My excuse was that my niece and family were planning a visit and she always likes me to have a craft project for them. Peter and I both wove one and he didn’t think he had ever made a potholder before.

My niece had planned a busy weekend of college visits for her youngest and I thought there would be little time for play. I had this basket on the kitchen table when they came home one day and they all said “what’s this stuff???” During the weekend three of them found the time for weaving.

This size loom makes a very useable square – about 8″. And this project is a two-fer; it’s both fun and useful! A friend commented that the loopers are expensive. Yes, they are, but they are knitted in the US and they are cotton and they come in gorgeous colors. I bought the brights colorway plus white and black; you can also buy bags of single colors or several mixes. Harrisville sells loopers in the small size so you can order lovely loopers for the loom you have.

One of the boys used the colors of SC State for his potholder. I told him that he could say that his great aunty made it, but he said, no, he would certainly tell his roommates that he had made it. Good man!

If you are a weaver, you can use the potholder loom to play with color & weave effects. The green, black and white potholder (in the Philadelphia Eagles colors!) is a 3 strand repeat, for instance. And to make this design process even more fun, Harrisville has a potholder designer! Check it out here, it’s lots of fun to fiddle with.

When was the last time you wove a potholder? When you were small, did you have a potholder loom? I do recall making them, but can’t remember where or when. If you like to make pretty and useful items, then I do suggest you buy yourself a loom – they are not just for kids. And if you have fun-loving relatives, then you must get one. I have already started a new one…

{N.B. I am not promoting Harrisville Designs for any reason other than they make a great loom! And they are the only ones who make a large size loom.}

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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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