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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Dyeing with Friends

I have been volunteering at Greenville Center for Creative Arts for a few months. They have gallery space and offer classes and host studio artists. When I volunteer, I sit at the front desk mulling over proposing some classes. I love teaching and sharing and getting to know creative souls and I haven’t done much of that since we moved to South Carolina. This Summer I am offering two quilting workshops (and crossing my fingers that they fill!). Another class idea that I had was teaching shibori dyeing. It’s so much fun to do and quite “trendy” now in home dec and even clothing. After a lot of thought, I asked some neighborhood friends to be my guinea pigs and help me decide whether teaching a shibori class was feasible. (I offered one many years ago at a craft fair and did remember that it was a lot of work…)

The class idea was to dye 6 napkins, each trying out a different shibori technique. I knew that this class could not be for many students; dyeing takes lots of water and space to dump dye buckets and the venue where I want to teach has limited sinks. Here are some of the supplies I’d need to take – only some of the junk that makes shibori dyeing so fun.

When teaching a class like this, there are so many variables. The main one is how long each person takes to complete the tying or clamping or sewing of their piece. And that’s the creative part – they shouldn’t be rushed then. The actual dye time is set; it’s about an hour. I used to teach dyeing at my house in Illinois and the ladies would bring lunch and we’d eat and chat as the cloth sat in the dyebath. The class I would offer at The Art Center would cost a lot more and I’m not sure the participants would welcome “empty time”, which the dyeing time seems to be. Then there is rinsing and the super fun part – unwrapping the cloth and seeing the results – and then much more washing. My friends and I took so long that one woman had to leave as she had an appointment!

We did have a fun time and here are Gale’s napkins. Poor photo, but wonderful designs and color.

Cheri chose a blue green and had very nice results.

Debbie’s napkins turned out the best, as far as the dye color. They were a different weight from the others, looked to be mercerized and were woven in a twill pattern. Everything makes a difference when you’re dyeing.

Can you guess what I concluded???  I will not be teaching shibori… I’m disappointed but it’s way too much work and aggravation … I will keep hoping that the quilting workshops fill and dream up some less complicated ideas for the Fall session.

 

 

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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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HQAL – A New Tool!

First things first; here is my quilt. I thought I was on the last quarter of the middles, but it turns out that I have a half to go (the bottom half in the picture). Geez….I guess I dreamed that I was on the last quarter.

My general rule for machine or hand quilting, is to match the thread to the background. In the case of a dark fabric, it can be difficult to see where I’m going. Although I have Ott lights all over the house and right by my chair, I often have trouble positioning the light exactly where I need it to be. When I was in a toy store recently, I saw this,

and was reminded of a quilt teacher/friend, who uses a miners head lamp for applique and quilting! It works pretty well, though Peter is continually startled when I look at him and pin him in the spotlight. I think it will be great to take when we travel as hotel rooms rarely have decent lighting. (I also know a quilter who takes her own light bulbs when she travels!) Google miner’s lamp and you will find many options…

Despite the fact that I thought I was on the last quarter, I have made good progress – so many football games to watch. As I stitch along, I have been looking at the border and wondering what to do there. Borders always flummox me. I was hoping that the fabric print had a vine or some sort of pattern that I could follow, but it does not.

Stay tuned! And please check out the blogs of these ladies who are working away on their quilt tops! This Hand Quilt Along is an opportunity for hand quilters and piecers to share and motivate one another. We post every three weeks, to show our progress and encourage one another.  If you have a hand quilting project and would like to join our group contact Kathy at the link below.

Kathy, Lori, Margaret, Kerry, Emma, Tracy, Deb, Connie, Susan , Jessica  , SherryNanette, Sassy,  Edith ,  Sharon and Bella.

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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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Hand Quilt-Along Group!

Kerry of Lovethosehandsathome  recently posted about a hand quilt-along group that she had joined. It sounded like a great idea to me, as I guiltily remembered a quilt stuffed in a cupboard waiting to be completed. The quilt along was started by Kathy of Sewingetc, and I contacted her to be added to the group. Here is the story of my project….

I was surprised to see the date on the post – I didn’t realize that it was so old. (The top was completed pre-move (2013) and it is still not done!) I did start quilting it at some point and it is perhaps halfway done. It is not an easy project to hand quilt. All of the fabrics are batiks, which are always printed on very finely woven cotton, which means that it is harder to pierce with a needle. The backing is also made up of batiks… To compensate for the difficult fabrics, the batting is a thin polyester. Sneer as you might, but polyester is very easy to quilt, it’s very light, it washes easily and many award-winning hand quilters use it for all of these reasons.

I noticed on the post I wrote celebrating the finish, that I was planning to machine quilt it. In those days I had the #%$& Bernina sewing machine and was having all sorts of trouble using it, which would explain why I decided to hand quilt it. I use the teeny, tiny quilting needles with my readers on and a bright light over my left shoulder. Now that the weather here has finally cooled off, I will surely attract a cat or two with this cozy project.

This quilt was made in what I call my Illinois colors. I have moved on to lighter, brighter colors in South Carolina. But I do still have the Indian rug that I used as an inspiration, and it will still be lovely in that room.

Let the quilting begin!

Here are the other quilters who are participating! Click on their names to see what wonderful quilts they will be finishing. Check up on us November 26th to see what we have accomplished.

Kathy, Kerry, Deb , Bella Lori , Margaret , Emma , Tracy

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Midwest Road Trip

Last week, Peter and I were on a road trip. It was wonderful to be away – we have had one of those Summers when everything has been going wrong. Since his retirement, it seems like Peter has done nothing but repair things and read online guides and talk to repairmen, when he can’t fix something. Some months ago I signed up for the Midwestern Handi Quilter Event in Highland, Illinois, and when I asked if he would like to come along, I got a resounding “yes!”.

Our first stop was in Franklin Tennessee, which was #2 on my Where To Live Next List. It is a charming town set in lovely, rolling countryside, not far from Nashville. The horse farms and large estates (I looked at a house across the street from Reba McEntire’s farm!) are breath-taking. We had some yummy meals downtown and Peter toured the area on his bike while I window shopped. Next trip we will explore Nashville.

Handi Quilter makes my Sweet 16 quilting machine and I thought I’d like to go and see what I could learn about the machine and how to get better at free motion quilting.The Handi Quilter Event was sponsored by Mike’s Machine Shop and they did a nice job, and Mike is so knowledgeable about the machines. The classes were held in this Masonic Temple in Highland…..it’s quite a beauty!

The Event was 5 days long, but only the first two were relevant to me. I have a Sweet 16, which is called a “sit down, mid arm machine”. I do not use the HQ version of a stitch regulator, nor do I use a computer. She’s a plain vanilla machine and I’m delighted with her. Over the years I have taken machine quilting classes from “big deal quilters”. They show you how to do their quilting; the way they like to do it. Mary Beth Kraptil gave an overview, with many, many ideas for designs and how to accomplish them. After going over the basics of the machine and how to get the quilting started, she talked about a variety of quilt patterns, including “ruler work” and there was even a bit of time to try out her ideas and play with the rulers. And the mantra always is, no matter who teaches the classes, practise for 15 minutes every day!  She had samples galore, which are so helpful to see up close.

This idea for a practise piece was one of my favorites. She started with a printed fabric in the middle and then “finished” the motifs that were cut off. You can see that she added more floral and leaf shapes in the background and then fill, fill, filled!

Highland is about 45 minutes from St. Louis, so we decided to go to a Beer Week Event at the Anheuser Busch Biergarten. As you can see, it was a lovely evening… and check out the arch appearing in the distance!

It is so incredible!

The trip home was not as fun as the getting-there – isn’t that often the case? We were listening to a book on tape and I was secretly tracing quilting designs on my leg. I have so many ideas and some new tools and toys to play with!

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Orphan Block Quilt – – – Finally Finished

I certainly do not win awards for finishing projects in a timely fashion! After starting to quilt The Orphan Block Mash Up quilt, I quickly lost interest and it sat under my Sweet Sixteen machine for months. Languishing… it was started over a year ago. Fast forward to the present : I have a growing stack of quilt tops waiting to be quilted, so I have spent the last two weeks getting it done.

I am not thrilled with it. My quilting is not great so I will not be showing you a close-up. But as I have told students in the past, you can quilt samples or practise on “the real thing” and I chose to do the latter. Most people viewing the quilt in my hallway are not quilters, so they will not scrutinize my work. And if I can keep my tongue in my head and not say “Gee, the quilting is not very good”, I am sure they will admire it. (Sorry for the poor photo – I have no walls big enough to hang a quilt and get away from it to photograph, so it was on the floor and I was on a ladder!)

I must say that I am always amazed when I wash a quilt. It looks so much better and you really have to look closely to see the quilting at all; there’s just a nice texture.

Now that it is done, I can get on with the next project and learn some more.

Next Steps on Rock Around the Block – Jack’s Chain Quilt

Now that December has come and gone, I am trying to spend more time in the studio – and it’s back to the Jack’s Chain quilt. Knowing that I did not have enough of the background blue hand dyed fabric, I had to fiddle around with a final layout for the top. I finally decided that a center 3 square by 5 square strip, with a strip on either side using the new fabric would work for me.  I shopped around a few quilt stores and found a darker, but similar hand dyed blue.The center strip of the quilt top is completed and I am working on the rows with the new fabric. This pattern is not as circular as the original, more difficult pattern; it is more wavy.

Working on strips

A new addition is little hexies that I have hand appliqued in the middle of every other block. {Looking at the photograph, I am now wondering if I should make one for every middle, but will wait until I have finished with all the blocks…}

Hexie middles

It has been hard to find time to work on it, but I am back to making one square a day.