Feeds:
Posts
Comments

As I set out to start on the March swatch of the month, I was somewhat disheartened with the pattern. I had waited long enough to start my March swatch that April had already arrived. Eagerly opening the package, I saw that April was circles, March was circles, and January was circles.DSC01847While the stencils were different sizes of polka dot (March was medium), they were still the same pattern. Instantly I felt bored. But I persevered, and asked myself how can I enjoy this month? I told myself just start it and see.

DSC01846

Both the top layer and bottom layer were apple color. The suggested treatment was negative reverse applique. The stitching of the polka dots was finished quickly, and then I was cutting out around the circles.

DSC01854So then I had a swatch of funny little circles popping out of the background fabric. At this point, I was thumbing through the book, looking for ideas on how to make this month’s block more interesting. And I settled on adding some star embellishment with embroidery thread.

DSC01848Random circles received a random number of little red embroidered stars. Cute! But I quickly ran out of interest in doing the stars, and left most of the circles blank.

DSC01849What next? I had committed to myself to experiment more with adding beading, so wanted to find away to add beading. Since so much fabric was cut away from around the circles, this area between circles intrigued me. Grabbing chalk, I tried sketching a random pattern around the circles. And. I. Loved. It. Finally I found the thing that makes this swatch sing!

DSC01850I love the undulating curve of the beaded line, the way the sparkly beads catch the light and make the whole piece move. I used the bugle beads with button craft thread and a simple running stitch went quite quickly.

DSC01853I love that depending on the angle or direction you look, the overall effect has so many different repeating patterns. I started this month’s swatch less than infused, and ended up really enjoying myself. Or maybe I found myself somewhere in the thread.

721e84f2adc74a2d68645da8382da5f5Quote from www.slowstitching.com

 

 

 

Opening up the February Swatch of the Month mail, I was thrilled to discover that it was the Angie’s Fall stencil pattern. This is one design I have long admired in the Alabama Chanin line. The top fabric was a lovely Italian Plum, and the bottom fabric a Ruby color. Yum!

IMG_3368The guide suggested to work in backstitch reverse applique with embroidery floss. I immediately started in, and enjoyed every second. Because of the intricate nature of the design, this swatch took a lot longer to complete, but was also very portable.

PicMonkey Collage2

Only needing the spool of embroidery floss and scissors, I could tuck in my bag and bring with me anywhere! I stitched a lot at work on my lunch break, and on the weekend in coffee shops. Anywhere I sat for a second I was stitching.

DSC01696After the stitching was done, I cut away the center pieces of the designs for the reverse applique. Many pieces were so small I didn’t cut them, so the pattern was very diverse. Adding in beading embellishment, I chose to do varying patterns in specific spots to emphasize the stencil.

PicMonkey Collage

As this swatch took me so much longer than the other swatches I’ve stitched, this recent  article in Quilting Daily really spoke to me. I didn’t realize there was a growing interest in the “Slow Stitching Movement”, as I’ve always loved to hand stitch.

DSC01697In the article, they suggest to stitch intentionally. “When you slow stitch, think about what you want to accomplish with your stitching and focus on it intently.” The beading has been difficult for me, so I just try, and think about where I wanted to go, and do it slowly. The beading adds more time, but the end result is interesting and different. At first I was unsure of the beading, but as I added more, it added a pop and pizzazz that wasn’t there before.

DSC01699And of course here is my requisite back of the swatch photo. I love the tail ends of the string. There is one Alabama Chanin technique that keeps the knots on top of the fabric, I hope to try it on one of the swatches!

DSC01686

 

As I’ve shared in previous points, I am drawing a quilt design each day. Sometimes it is a random sketch for the day and sometimes it is for a specific project. When I learned a good friend was expecting her second baby, I knew I wanted to make her son a quilt. I raided my fabric stash, and pulled out these fat quarters I purchased awhile back.

IMG_9156After sketching a design of large flying geese in a t-pattern, I did the math. Despite reading several tutorials on how to size flying geese triangles, and googling a fair amount of geometry reference, I still calculated my numbers wrong. Oops! When I sewed the triangles together, they didn’t quite match up for a rectangle, but it was easy enough to trim them down, and it didn’t affect the overall dimensions of the quilt at all. I will need to spend some more time with triangle geometry to figure out where I was going wrong! I think it has something to do with how much to add for seam allowance. Anyone with match skills have the answer?

2

From my calculations, I headed to our local quilt shop to purchase a bit more fabric, as the fat quarters I already have weren’t enough. My phone came in handy to snap a picture in black and white to check my values. I was hoping to find additional fabrics to add to mix it up, but ended up purchasing more in the same fabric line.

IMG_3356

Because my block sizes were large, the top sewed together in a morning. What a thrill it was to see my first pattern materialized as a quilt top!

IMG_9162

For quilting, I wanted to go with a lighter colored thread so it wouldn’t stand out against the light colored fabric of the front and back. When in the quilt shop, I picked a turquoise to go with the tree color. Once I started quilting though, I was bummed with how it turned out, as the color became quite a bit darker against the white then I had expected. A good lesson to pick a lighter colored thread than you think you will want, as it will look darker against the white.

6

This is also the first larger size quilt I’ve quilted completely on my new Brother sewing machine, and it was great! The machine performed wonderfully, humming away as I stitched, with no broken threads or weird tension or anything. The extended table made the quilt slide around easily, and I didn’t have any of the arm muscle stress I’ve had in the past. I also wanted to play around with some new patterns to stitch with, so spent a little while sketching with pencil different designs for the different areas. Quilting is a lot like zentangling!

IMG_3433

I think that is some of the pleasure of making a baby quilt. While I want the quilt to be nice, there is also a bit of freedom, because it is for a baby who doesn’t know if the seams match or the quilting is straight. All that really matters is I made it with love imagining the new little one coming into this world. I find it fun to make baby quilts because I can play with new colors and techniques. And no matter what, after popping them in the wash, they come out soft and snugly and perfect for a little one.

DSC01826

Heading outside for a photo shoot, our chickens were very curious and came over to see what was going on!

7

I liked the brown in the fabrics, so chose to bind the quilt with a brown polka dot I picked up in the Bay Area on our recent trip, when Lesley and I enjoyed going to the most delicious yarn and fabric shop ever, A Verb for Keeping Warm. I also tried a new technique in attaching my quilt labels. This time I ironed a quarter inch hem around the sides, then cut a piece of fusible webbing slightly smaller than the size of the hemmed label. I then ironed that to the label, and then to the quilt. This helped stabilize it as I whip-stitched the edges down, and kept the shape more square.

9

After snapping a few photographs, I sent the quilt off in the mail. I’m super thrilled with making my first quilt design become a reality!

DSC01807

 

Margaret had attended this year’s Road to California and taken the shibori dyeing class. She brought back what she learned to our Out of the Box quilt group. We had a lovely Sunday afternoon in Nela and Jan’s garden. PicMonkey Collage4

Margaret showed us some of the fabrics she had dyed in the shibori class.

DSC01731

With the range of colors available to us with dyes, we took the traditional Japanese indigo dye art out of the box.

PicMonkey Collage

Margaret showed us wrapping the fabric around a round tube, tying it with string, and painting the dye on. We experimented a bit with pre-wetting the fabric and painting the dye on dry fabric. On the right, the top half was fabric dry, and bottom half fabric wet. This method is called Arashi shibori.

PicMonkey Collage3

Other techniques we played with was folding the fabric in triangles, and pinning with clothespins and clamps, this method is called Kumo shibori. We also tried wrapped fabric around objects and dyeing. And also using rock salt to spread the color! It was a great afternoon of experimentation and fun. No measurements were made and no recipes followed. I can’t say if I used 1tsp or 1 TBS of dye powder, and sometimes I was mixing dyes together without knowing what I was using, but I can say I had fun!

PicMonkey Collage5

Here are my three fabrics I made. The top two were wrapped around a pole. The top pink was wrapped at a diagonal around a skinny broomstick handle. The middle blue was wrapped straight around a wide PVC pipe. The bottom was folded in triangles, pinned with clothespins, and dyed in a light brown. Once dry, I refolded into triangles again, pinned with clothespins, and dyed with pink.

DSC01781

This piece is my favorite from the day’s experiments. I like the layers of colors the double dyeing gives. And I like the random pattern within the repeats. Makes me want to use it in a quilt!

DSC01794

Looking at these fabrics, I remember the feel of the sun, the sparkle of the spring flowers, and the laughter of the ladies as we chatted and played. As we celebrate the first days of spring, I am grateful for friends and creativity and projects to come!

This weekend, I met up with my friend Tiffany to give her a brief introduction into natural dyeing. Since it was the following weekend after the mushroom dye workshop, I was excited to put some of the new things I learned into practice!

DSC01703

Here’s my impromptu dyeing setup in the backyard: table chairs and stove! I dream of the day when I can have my own dye workshop …

DSC01708

First new thing I tried different than in the past – little tests of yarn! Here Tiffany is tying small bundles. Since it is between seasons here, we didn’t really have any good plants to collect, so we used plants from our kitchen! We tried dyeing avocado skins and red cabbage leaves.

DSC01710

The other new technique I tried was the double boiler! I really like the way it allowed to do multiple colors at the same time. Controlling temperature was also easier, as the jars never went up to a rolling boil. However, I should have taken the time to see how hot they did get. Next time!

DSC01714

Avocado skins on the left, cabbage on the right.

PicMonkey Collage

The avocado skins came out a simple tan color (alum mordant). Lovely!

PicMonkey Collage2

The red cabbage we did a neat experiment with! All three little skeins were mordanted with alum. After pulling all three out of the dye and rinsing them, we left one with only the alum mordant. The other two we played around with the pH. One was dipped in a vinegar bath and simmered for five minutes, and the other soda ash. The vinegar was supposed to turn it more red, and the soda ash green.

DSC01718

The word supposed to is never good to use! When we first dropped the yarn into the soda ash, it did turn a pretty green. But then after leaving it for five minutes, the color changed to the muted yellow. Above, you can see a little green on the yarn when rinsing one skein touched the soda ash skein. Next time we should try pulling it out sooner! Above is also the vinegar on the left and the no change on the right. I don’t see any difference in their color, do you?

DSC01726

A very fun experiment for a Sunday afternoon. Can’t wait for spring and summer to collect more dyestuff and to continue to play!

Two weeks ago I had the great pleasure of attending a Mushroom and Lichen Natural Dyeing workshop at the Berkeley Botanical Gardens, taught by Alisa Allen.

PicMonkey Collage4

This was my first formal natural dyeing class, all my previous experience has come from books and experimenting on my own. It was great to learn from someone with a lot of experience and passion. I picked up a few neat tricks that I look forward to incorporating into my home dye practice like pre-making test strips of yarn. Each string is a different mordant, tied together, ready to put in a small experiment batch of dye to see what range of colors can be achieved.

DSC01582

Another trick I think is just brilliant is using one big pot with smaller glass jars as a type of double boiler. This allowed her to have multiple small batches of color going. This is a great way to speed up the process, dye many colors at the same time, and control temperature easier.

DSC01604

Alisa discussed basic mushroom and lichen ecology, how to identify and where to collect. She brings a dehydrator in the field to dry the mushrooms after collecting to save for later! This also allows more predictability in repeating recipes, as the dry mushroom can be accurately weighed.

PicMonkey Collage

Some of the lichens shared were crazy! When collecting lichens, she explained you only harvest off of falling branches, never live from a tree. Some lichens dye this crazy magenta purple. To test to see if the lichen has that ability, she shared a neat bleach testing method. Look at that color!

PicMonkey Collage2

The other very fascinating thing about mushrooms and lichen in dyeing, is that in addition to using mordants to bring out color, they are extremely susceptible to changes in pH. By making the dye bath more acidic or basic, the color can wildly change! Alisa would add vinegar or ammonia, checking pH as she went, to achieve optimal colors.

DSC01592

By the end of the five hour class, we had twenty glorious colors all made from mushrooms and lichens the instructor had collected in California. DSC01664

Each skein was divided among the class participants, and we made a card showing the recipe to make each color. Along with a guide for what the mushrooms and lichens look like and where to collect them, we left the workshop well prepared to give it a try.

DSC01671

We also each got to make a shibori silk scarf. We wrapped the scarf around a tube, wrapped with twine, scrunched it all down, and submerged it in dye. After unwrapping the whole bundle, a pattern almost like that of tree bark emerged. I can’t wait to try more shibori in the future.

PicMonkey Collage3

While I’m not sure if we have any mushrooms or lichens that dye colors here in the desert, I look forward to using some of the techniques learned in my other dyeing, and to forage for mushrooms next time I find myself in a more wet environment. I highly recommend taking one of her workshops if you have the opportunity. Thanks Lesley for being my model!

DSC01670

I have completed my first two months of my daily journal practice! In my first post sharing my intention for 2015, I was unsure of how much I wanted to share here. I’ve decided I want to try sharing a few photos every couple months, showcasing themes or ideas that particularly shine for me. Let me disclose there were days with just words or scribbles, but these are just as important as the entries I want to show today. I found that with no judgement, as long as I came back each day, entries became easier and easier, ideas flowed from one day to the next. Sometimes, it was the days when I had no idea what I was going to journal that were the most creative of all.

IMG_9172I have recently been infatuated with the flying geese pattern, as some of my recent projects show. Flying geese became a major theme of my first two months. I enjoyed the zentangle like quality of drawing triangles and playing with color combinations. These are very peaceful and meditative to draw.

IMG_9170

Occasionally, I’d also get an idea for more of an art quilt idea. On these days I’d use words and rough sketches to put down what I was imagining in my head. In the past, I’d have these ideas, and since I wasn’t journaling, they would just drift away into my subconscious. Now, that I’ve captured them down in a rough form, they feel more real and tangible. It is like my brain doesn’t need to work to keep the idea, I’ve released it into the world, and it is there waiting for me should I want to make it into a quilt. I can foresee that this journal will become a place of inspiration, to look back through past entries, and pull out an idea to make into a quilt. I get the sense I can hold a lot more quilt ideas in my head, now that I am letting them go instead of keeping them in.

PicMonkey Collage

When Play Crafts announced their 2015 Pantone Quilt Challenge using Marsala, I enjoyed spending several days sketching possible quilts to make using marsala. This was also the first time a design I sketched got me excited enough to where I took time to calculate size and dimensions and how I would turn it into a quilt. The process resurrected a lot of high school geometry I haven’t used in years. Maybe you will see it as a quilt in the future!

IMG_9156Most recently, I wanted to make a baby quilt for a friend, and spent one of my daily entries sketching out what the quilt might look like, as I had fabrics already purchased.  I am fairly humming with excitement at making my first design into a quilt that is all my own!

IMG_9162Recently, one of the quilt blogs I follow, Quilting Jetgirl, posted her notes on lectures attended at QuiltCon. In one, she quotes the lecturer as saying, “Alissa’s advice to those of us considering how we can find our voice was not to analyze what else is out there or how we’re different, it’s simply to do what we do, again and again, and eventually our unique voice will emerge.” This spoke to me in reflection of my daily journal practice. My intent to start on this new experiment was that I’ve traditionally followed patterns and copied other ideas, and wanted to find my own voice. Her advice echos my experience in these first two months, that day by day, going to my journal and doing what I want again and again, eventually my voice will emerge. We’ll see!

IMG_9178

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 83 other followers