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I think the months got all mixed up for everyone. April’s package arrived for the Pressed Seam Club, and the introduction card started with “Happy March Everyone!” And now it is May, and I’m sharing April’s fabrics with you!

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Kristine shared in her note that the collection started with the Jubilee print with lots of multi-colored polka dots, and went from there.

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There is a very geometric feel to this collection, with circles, lines, and solids. Some fabric is from Japan and some from India. Wow!

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Toward the end of March, a friend and I experimented with dyeing shibori. I tried a running stitch pattern, and chose this brilliant maroon color to dye with. When I returned home and opened my Pressed Seam shipment, I thought my dyed piece complemented the other fabrics quite well!

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So many intriguing, interesting, and neat fabrics! Such colors and designs. I can’t wait to make something with them! Maybe adding in my dyed shibori swatch to the mix …

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P.S. This mini photo shoot included scone, strawberries, and a cuppa tea. Heaven!

Many moons ago, I stumbled across Rebecca Ringquist and her dropcloth samplers. I was immediately smitten, purchased the book, subscribed to her 12 month sampler club, and decided I was going to learn how to embroider. I did complete a couple of the monthly samplers last year, but then life happened, as it so often does. As I received each monthly sampler in the mail, I neatly tucked it away into a drawer. And they sat there. And sat.

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Until this January, when motivation struck again, and I pulled out the samplers and began stitching.

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Suddenly, I was finishing one every few weeks. Maybe it was the intense winter we had, full of snow and wet and cold. Maybe it was the long dark evenings, when stitching while watching a show was enjoyable. Maybe it is because work has been extra intense, and stitching is a super great way to unwind at the end of even the most stressful day.

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It’s something I look forward to. Even if for just a few minutes, pulling out the gorgeous colors and feeling the threads and making the patterns, just warms my heart and gives me a place that is peaceful and simple.

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The second thing that really kicked me into gear and made embroidery fun was discovering Rebecca Rinquist’s class on CreativeBug, and utilizing youtube videos to learn how to make each stitch. In the picture above, I made the needle holder from this workshop.

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I discovered it is super helpful to actually see in movement exactly how the stitch was made. How the sewist held her fingers, positioned the needle, and made each stitch.

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As soon as one sampler was finished, I started on the next. I tried different types of threads and played with different colors.

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My favorite sampler of all I stitched towards the end. Raised stitches. Each was so unique. The construction of each was very detailed, and I was amazed again and again at the process that ended with such a fantastic looking stitch. I couldn’t get over each one.

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This sampler also had a few flowers on each side, which were a joy to stitch as I love flowers.

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Ready for the big reveal? Without further ado, all twelve samplers!

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What’s next? I think making them all into something would be nice. Maybe a book, like a stitch library. Then I could consult the book when choosing my next stitch (and maybe recall how to make each one).

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Have I stopped stitching? No way! Now I’m on to a colorburst sampler that was included in one of my dropcloth sampler mailings. It is neat to start to apply the stitches I learned in whatever way I like!

And from here? I am inspired to try a layered floral embroidery piece, combining different fabrics and patterns. I am interested in joining a wild boho stitch along. I’d like to try to draw my own designs to stitch, like this scene of wildflowers by Kelly Fletcher.

The days are getting longer and it is nice to be outside more, but I am still finding time to sit a bit in the evening and stitch. I’m guessing I’ll be sharing some more stitchery with you here in the future!

Are you inspired to try embroidery?

Playing with Color

I’m in the middle of my next quilt as part of the Master Class I am taking, focusing on lines. I’ve made a sketch of a mountain scene, and am in the process of turning it into a quilt. It’s quite challenging, but feels good to be stretching my skills and doing something that is hard to do (once the quilt is all the way finished I’ll have a proper post sharing more detail!).

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As I started pulling together fabrics to use, I realized I needed a few additional colors. So last Sunday, I had some free time to dye. Thinking of mountains, I wanted to dye a range of blacks and greys and maroons, with a few greens thrown in for the valley.

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I started by dyeing a value gradation of the three colors I wanted to make, using Better Black, Brushed Steel, and Sangria procion dyes.

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And then I got more playful. In the past, I’ve kept meticulous notes and followed careful directions to achieve specific colors. This time, I mixed and played at random, each new color a a delightful surprise.

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I started with a bit of the black, and added a bit of golden yellow to lighten it. I then played around with adding golden yellow and sangria and brushed steel in varying amounts to various colors. I generally know how I got to each one, but it would be hard to recreate each specifically. Maybe that is a bit of the magic and why I love dyeing fabric so much. Each piece of fabric is unique and perfect and there won’t be another like it.

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And then my favorite piece. Inspired by directions in Gloria Loughman’s book Radiant Landscapes, where she shares how to dye a gradient. For my last rectangle of fabric, I took the remaining black, grey and maroon, and dyed them in a gradient. I want to dye a lot more pieces like this. The possibilities for quilting and design are endless.

As for finishing my March Master Class assignment by the due date … I am very behind. Life got busy this month with fun and work commitments, and my extra energy and time for quilting hasn’t materialized. How do you catch up on projects when you get behind?

February’s assignment was to explore the picture plane with shape, structure, and balance. A good design is an interesting design, with the shape and structure drawing the viewer in.

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Poppies are one of my most favorite wildflowers, so I chose to make a quilt filled with poppies. I was also stoked at the opportunity to practice sketching. For my birthday last year, Aaron gave me Law’s Guide to Nature Drawing, and I’ve been itching to give it a try. I printed a photograph of poppies that I took, and started to sketch. I was thrilled at how following the steps in the book produced such realistic looking poppies. And I don’t even know how to draw!

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For the Master Class, each month is divided into three assignments. The first assignment was the sketch. I photocopied my poppies and played around with arranging them in different patterns and backgrounds. Above is the one I liked the most. The teacher’s comments were to try adding to the design with flowers in different directions and with stalks that bend a little. She encouraged me to show something different about poppies that I have observed myself.

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I went back to my inspiration photo, and drew more poppies! I looked for poppies of different shapes and sizes to include in my design, drawing some that were facing the sun and some with petals that were more open.

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For the second deadline, I turned in my blocked out quilt. I continued to play around with the background design and color choice. The teacher’s critique here was to soften the background and really keep the focus on the poppies. I really like how she phrased this, so I’ll share it here, “It’s important to capture their essence, how they hold themselves and move in the breeze…rather than botanical details..” She ended with the encouragement to put my time into a lot of poppies!

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So I went back to the drawing board! I looked for as many shapes and poppies to capture from the photo. This time I spotted the smaller poppies, that were still buds or just starting to bloom. Then I cut out as many poppies as I had patience and time.

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For the assembly of the quilt, first I pieced the background and quilted the fabric layers. Then I arranged the poppies onto the quilt, and stitched them down in raw edge applique.

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As I placed them, I continued to keep my inspiration photo handy, to check placement in order to really capture how they hold themselves and move in the breeze.

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I like how the quilting adds the needed details to bring each poppy petal to life. I thought about making each petal a separate piece of fabric, but chose not to for simplicity. That would have made the small pieces of fabric that make up each flower really overwhelming!

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The final quilt is small, 12″ x 16″. The teacher’s final encouragement was simply to suggest trying to make it as a larger quilt. That would be a really neat exercise, to try to enlarge the quilt. I wonder what I would change or keep the same? Probably adding more poppies would be good!

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A little bit more about my inspiration. In September 2015, our family property where I grew up burned in the Butte Fire, as I’ve shared before. My mom spread poppy wildflower seeds, and in the first spring after the fire, they came up with abandon along the creek. This photo was taken in May 2016 when we visited the property. It was the first time I had seen the property since right after the fire. My first emotion was intense grief, when I saw how so much had changed and now looked different. But after spending the day there, hiking around, visiting, working, laughing and hanging out, my sadness went away and I felt comforted. The property still gave me the same sense of home. On the surface it felt and looked different, but the heart of the land was still there. The curve of the hill and the breadth of the sky was still the same. That’s what I attempted to share with this quilt. My memory of the sadness of what was lost combined with hope for the future and what awaits us just around the corner. Just as the poppies lean in towards the sun, ever hopeful and brave. Let’s all lean in towards the sun, bringing much needed color and joy to the world.

 

The fabric delivery for March from A Verb for Keeping Warm’s Pressed Seam Club is the most scrumptious of them all.

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Loving this selection probably has to do with my fondness for blue and purple.

img_2692Kristine shared that she chose the March palette around one of Caroyln Friedlander’s new prints – Sage (seen in foreground of photo). It is a beautiful pattern, and my mind hums with ideas on what type of project to use it in!

img_2695 These six fabrics would look lovely together in a quilt. But really, who knows where they will end up!

  1. Robert Kaufman – Carolyn Friedlander – Friedlander Sage
  2. Free Spirit Fabrics – Anna Maria Horner – Mixed Signals
  3. Kokka Co. LTD Fabrics – Ellen Baker – Framework
  4. Robert Kaufman – Classic Threads – Grape
  5. Nano Iro – Freeway
  6. Free Spirit Fabrics – Heather Bailey – Momentum Vibe

Give a Quilt, Give a Hug

My husband’s grandmother’s birthday is today. In collaboration with his aunt, I sketched a design and came up with a quilt to make. We talked about a shawl sized quilt, that is soft and cuddly to keep her warm.

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It was fun to pull from my stash of fabrics to select the colors for his project. Who doesn’t love  bright pop of yellow?

img_2542I added a row of turquoise squares as a bright pop of color. It was my first time sewing a square in a square quilt block. I like the look!

img_2538I backed the quilt with fleece to make it soft and warm. And the quilt arrived just in time to be delivered last weekend by my mother-in-law. Give a quilt, give a hug. I think I might have more shawl quilts in my future!

I shared in my intentions for the year that I am taking an online class with Elizabeth Barton. January was the first assignment of the year. We were tasked with learning to see, sketch and use value. Working from a photograph, I made a sketch of the Point Reyes Lighthouse that we visited over Christmas.

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The assignment challenged us to use only one color in light, medium, and dark values. I chose to use black, which meant I needed to dye some fabric!

img_2288It’s been ages since I had a dye session, maybe almost a year! It felt pleasurable, like seeing an old friend, pulling out my supplies and making magic in the kitchen. I dyed two colors, black and blue, in an eight value color way.

img_2300Black is such a fascinating color when reduced into values. It brings out the colors that make it black. Here, I discovered gray black tones of purple!

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I had my sketch and I had my fabric, and then I pulled it all together. The assignments are divided into three parts throughout the month, first we turn in our sketch and receive feedback, then we turn in the blocked quilt, and have a second chance for feedback and making changes, and then at the end of the month we turn in our finished quilt.

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The blocked stage isn’t stitched or secured down so that there is the opportunity to shift and make changes. The main lesson I learned in my design is that the literal truth seen in the photograph doesn’t necessarily make for a pleasing or interesting design. Small changes can be made to make the design a good one. I guess that’s why they call it artistic license!

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This piece is small, 11″ x 15″, and the quilting came together quickly. Swirls and squiggles and wavy lines. I was trying to evoke the craggy rocks, breaking waves, and fog-filled sky.

img_2380The lighthouse looks little, perched on its craggy rocks against the grandeur of the ocean and sky. That’s how I remember it in real life, and how I wanted it to be seen in the quilt.

img_2403Here’s another picture of the lighthouse from when we visited last December. There are more than 300 steps to walk down to reach the lighthouse.

img_4021When the lighthouse was in operation, a lone individual would live there for months on end. Now that would be a wild job. Just you, the rocks, and the surf.