Posted in painting, quilting

Update on Arches Quilt

I last wrote about this project on November 16th – almost a month ago. In that post I made a list of next steps. While I have completed all but a few of those steps, I started to lose enthusiasm for the project while painting my fabric. It seems that all of my fabrics began to look alike. I told myself that the background fabrics SHOULD look alike, otherwise they wouldn’t retreat into the background. But I still wanted more texture and movement in the colors. So I decided to go back to Cindy Walter’s fabric painting class, to review my technique and discover what I’m missing.

https://shop.mybluprint.com/quilting/classes/fun-techniques-with-fabric-paints/35491

That did the trick. I worked a few variations on color washing and finished painting the background fabric. I now have enough fabric to start building the quilt blocks.

Looking at all the difference in the fabrics, it’s clear to me that I need to organize them in a way that illustrates the scene I want to paint. The solution came to me while I was in the shower. (Why do I get my best ideas while washing my hair?) The Arch stretches itself across three different backdrops.

Water.

City.

And sky

I have my design, my structure, my fabric and my pattern. Now I can begin to sew.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Walk in the Woods

Stellar weather today. The temperatures are in the mid 50s, with sunshine and no wind. It was a perfect afternoon for walking. We went to the Pathfinder, which winds its way through the floodplain along the river. I brought my Canon camera and got a few shots that could serve as reference photos for future drawings.

Over the river. Beautiful lines, shadows and colors.
Interesting perspective
Great reflections on the pond and fine color contrast between banks and water.
The trees in the foreground frame the shot.
Really lovely bark texture and brilliant green moss.

Back home for a cup of tea with biscuits (also known as cookies to those of us who live in the States.) The number of days with gorgeous weather this year is about over.

Posted in knitting

Toe-Up Socks

You knitters who have made many a toe-up sock are encouraged to skip this little blog. But those who are new to knitting socks may find the following somewhat interesting. It’s time. After ten years of knitting I am finally making a pair of socks knitted from the toe up.

My inability to learn toe-up sock knitting is 100% the fault of Judy’s Magic Cast On.

Judy, I am sure that you are a fabulous knitter and a wonderful person. But I just couldn’t get my head or my hands around this technique. All the talk of top and bottom needles, wrap the tail end of the yarn around the top and the ball end around the bottom, (being careful not to let go of your needles or wrap the yarn too tight or too loose) it was just awkward and more than a little confusing. So sorry about that. My fault entirely, I am sure. But I ask, why not start with a crochet chain?

Starting with a slip knot and using a hook close in size to your sock needles, chain the number of cast on stitches specified in your pattern plus one. In my example I chained nine stitches. If you study the image above, you will see a top set of loops and a bottom set of loops. Now replace the crochet hook with your first needle. Pick up the loop next to your needle and knit it, then pick up and knit all of the others loops along the upper edge. Rotate your work clockwise until the bottom loops are now on top and to the left of your working yarn. Using another needle, pick up and knit all of the bottom loops (Ignore the slip knot. It will be hidden inside the toe.) When you get to the end of the round your work will look like this.

Divide the stitches over four needles so that there are an equal number of stitches on each needle. Continue with your pattern.

After knitting the next round on four needles.

I know some of you are already pointing out that the toe seam created by this method seems to have purl bumps. I say have courage and knit on. Your seam will not look perfect, but it will smooth out somewhat.

After knitting all the increase rows.

And, by the way, the toe seam will be hidden inside the shoe during wearing, so no one will see. And I promise not to tell.

Posted in drawing

Inspiration from the Little Free Library

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How many of you are familiar with this movement?  I first became aware of it almost ten years ago.  It’s a way to encourage reading while recycling books that you have finished reading. Anyone can erect a little library on their property by becoming a steward, building the library and registering it at the organization’s site. There are little free libraries all over the place. Check out the organization’s website, which has a map showing the locations of these tiny structures.

https://littlefreelibrary.org/

On a recent walk through my neighborhood I discovered that a neighbor had installed a little free library in her yard.  What a surprise and delight!  Inside I found a beautiful book of photographs that looked very promising as a source of inspiration.

http://maxwellmackenzie.com/americanruins.php

Maxwell MacKenzie is an American photographer born in Fergus Falls, MN. who  specializes in architectural photography.  This book includes some wonderful images of abandoned structures on the Northern Great Plains which he captured between 1996 and 1999.  They were built by settlers, farmers and pioneers who abandoned them, generally due to experiencing some kind of hardship.  I found the images to be haunting.  I began to imagine the people of the past who had lived and died there. And so I began sketching from the photographs, with an idea about recreating some of these ghosts.  Here is my first sketch, of an old one-room schoolhouse.  It is almost finished.

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This exercise is a good way to take a break from fiber arts, while continuing to develop my skills with pen and ink.

 

Posted in quilting

Back to the Scrap Heap

I’m taking a break from knitting and painting to do a little sewing.  Some may recall my brief panic the day I realized what happens to my studio as a consequence of quilting.

Crazy Out-of-Control Scrap Heap

After spending time perusing other quilt blogs to find out how other quilters deal with this situation, I found part of the solution in the form of quilted buckets.  This lesson comes to us from Christina Cameli and Bluprint.com.

https://shop.mybluprint.com/quilting/classes/free-motion-quilted-gifts/673670

So yesterday I started on my first of three fabric buckets that (I hope) will contain my fabric-waiting-to-be-used.  This project is also an opportunity for me to practice free motion quilting while adding color and style to my studio. Her are my fabric choices for the first bucket.

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Pink for the outside and gray for the lining.

I’m quilting dimensional triangles for this bucket.  Here is the first step done.

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I had to use a chalk pencil to keep my row straight.

The next few hours were spent happily quilting.  Eventually the first basket was finished.

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Some inch-wide grosgrain ribbon I found became the basket handles.

I have to admit that I sewed up the wrong sides of the baskets, so my basket is actually two inches longer than the one in the lesson. This turned out to be fortunate. The revised dimension held lots of fabric and fit nicely into the allotted space on my shelves.

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I used the Kon-Marie method of folding the fabric and filled the bucket with the folded fabric pieces inserted on edge. It was amazing to see how much fabric this little bucket holds.  Each fabric piece remains clearly visible and easy to grab.

So my plan now is to make three more buckets to use in storing 1 yard and fat quarter size pieces, and to make some smaller baskets for the various colors of scraps.

I highly recommend Christina Cameli’s class. She is delightful instructor.  Each of her projects can be made in an afternoon and would make wonderful gifts.

Posted in knitting

Dropped and Found

Dropped and found

My friend Kathy tossed this knitting pattern at me a few weeks ago with a plea.  She really liked it, but was intimidated by the instructions to drop several stitches and then pick them up again.  I couldn’t understand what she was afraid of.  So I agreed to test knit this pattern.

Here is it, as designed by Jesse at Home.

Dropped and Found Wrap

Frankly, this is one of the easiest patterns I have ever knit.  It is a basic garter stitch rectangle.  The dropping and picking up takes place at the final two rows. I chose to use a bulky 2-ply yarn from Universal Yarn called Marled. I theorized that the frequent color changes would keep me from getting bored while knitting plain garter for several hours. Fortunately, I had a long, easy car trip during which most of the work took place.

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My test wrap is roughly 15 in. wide by 50 in. long before blocking.

Here’s how the braided sections are completed.  On the second to last row, drop three stitches roughly every 12 stitches.  Knit one more row, leaving the needle in place.  Now gently pull the dropped stitches apart all the way down to the bottom row.  Starting with the bottom four floats, use fingers or a crochet hook to braid the floats in groups of four back up to the top.  Put the top loop of each braid back on the needle and bind off.  Voila!

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I made mine narrower than the pattern called for, hence only three braids.

I can imagine several other uses for this decorative technique.  It would make an interesting treatment up a sleeve, or flanking the button band or center back of a cardigan. How else can you imaging using the dropped and found design element?

Posted in drawing, knitting, painting

Life in the Studio

As much as I enjoyed our little trip to visit family, it’s nice to be back into my routine. Just as an aside, the faux suede baby booties, while slightly too big, were well accepted by little L. In the meantime, she had also acquired two other items of footwear – a pair of sneakers and a pair of snow boots. She did a brief baby runway show, modeling all of the above. It was so funny to watch her toddle around the house awkwardly, although looking quite pleased with herself and her ability to work the crowd.

Back at home, I have picked up where I left off on various fiber projects.

First of all, I’m knitting a birthday surprise for my daughter. (A big clue to the surprise is found in the sketch above.)

Secondly, I’ve resumed efforts toward making the Arches quilt. It’s amazing how just writing down the next steps motivated me to work. I have finished drawing the full-size patterns for each block. And by completing this step, I have been able to determine exactly how may squares of each color will be required. Over the past two days I have been painting the background fabric. I chose to paint the background squares on a gray fabric, in order to keep the background looking like the night sky.

Next up will be the fabric for the quilt subject.

 

Posted in knitting

Notta Gloves

Trigger mittens, also know as trigger finger mittens, have been used by the American military since at least the Civil War. A clever combination of the warmth of mittens with the flexibility of gloves, these mittens have a separate index finger to allow soldiers to easily operate machinery in cold temperatures.

I made these mittens for my grandson, based on specifications from his mother. She had made him a pair similar to these, but he lost one. Since I don’t care for military associations, I have renamed this style the Notta Glove. The name is self-explanatory.

This basic pattern came from Victory Light on Ravelry. Her design needed adaptations to create the index finger but they were easily made. The original design can be found at https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/zen-little-fingers-and-toes-part-1-mittens

You start the normal way, with a 2×2 rib cuff in the main color. Next, with larger needles, begin the 2 x 2 stranded knitting with the 2nd color.

I inserted a thumb gusset at this point – not included in the original pattern.

Use waste yarn to set up for an Afterthought thumb – I worked it over nine stitches. Continue in pattern to the top of the palm, where you divide for the 2 finger compartments. I put the outer 2/3rds of stitches on waste yarn and worked the index finger with 1/3 of the stitches. Add 2 stitches where the front and back meet between the fingers.

Put the held stitches back on the needles, continue in pattern until you reach the tip of the middle finger, and decrease down to nine stitches in the usual manner for mittens. Put held thumb stitches back on needles and knit the thumb last.

The hardest thing in knitting mittens is getting the second to match the first.
It’s easy to give the OK sign in Notta gloves.

These Nottas are pretty neat and quite warm. I may make a pair for myself.

Posted in colorwork, quilting

Inspiration, Gestation, Implementation

INSPIRATION: The idea for creating a fiber object based on the Gateway Arch has been rattling around in my brain for some time. It really started way back in 2012, after my husband and I visited the Gateway to the West museum in St. Louis. At that time, he took a series of photographs showing every possible angle of the Arch at ground level. They are rather remarkable, taken as a group. Here is an example.

Earlier this year, I asked for copies of these images and began to imagine how a series of different views would look on quilt blocks. I printed out nine pictures and pushed them around against each other. In the end, I shelved the project. I decided that I really lacked the necessary technical skills to realize my idea.

GESTATION: Over the summer I completed several on-line quilting lessons and actually made a quilt based on my own design. I now feel ready to tackle the Arch project. So yesterday I pulled the photos back out and arranged them into a nine-block design with a look that pleased me. It took me hours to get it right.

IMPLEMENTATION: Dear me. Thinking about the many steps required to move a quilting project from the idea stage through to completion is giving me pause. Let’s take stock of where I am so far:

  • I have a design and a layout, pictured above. Each image represents one block at 1/3 scale. I’ve decided that I will need a paper template for each arch image, in order to draw and cut it accurately from the background material. For this task, I have located a pad of giant post-it notes. From it I have cut nine pieces that are 14 and 1/2 inches square.
  • Block Content: Each block will consist of 16 squares with a finished size of 3 1/2 inches. The flowing arch will be cut free-hand into the sewn blocks and inserted.
  • Colors: There will be three background colors in hand painted fabrics, moving from left to right they are purple, blue-purple, and blue. The arch section which winds through each block will be made of golden-orange-pink fabric. Here are some samples that I made earlier this year.
  • Other design decisions yet to be made: sashing or no sashing, type and number of borders, backing. While I plan to quilt it myself, I haven’t decided on a pattern yet.

Next steps seem to be

  • Draw to scale the templates for each block
  • Determine yardage needed for quilt top and purchase fabric
  • Cut fabric into manageable strips
  • Hand dye strips according to design plan
  • Cut out the squares
  • Practice cutting free-style curves.

A wise woman said, the journey of a thousand stitches begins with one thread.

Posted in sewing

Baby needs a new pair of Shoes

My granddaughter has spent her whole life barefooted. And now, just as she is learning to walk, winter weather has arrived. How is a beginning walker going to gain confidence in her stride if the ground is cold, wet, and slippery? This situation has been weighting on my mind so I decided to do something about it. Hence the quest to make baby boots. I have some yardage of fake suede lined in fleece. It looks really warm. Perhaps it can be fashioned into footwear?

I found the following pattern on Stitches and Sunflowers and began to answer this question. The maker professes that these really will stay on the baby’s feet.

stitchesandsunflowers.com/diy-baby-snap-booties/

After downloading the pattern pieces, I cut them out of the fake suede.

It’s important to flip the heel pattern piece over before cutting the second one.

Begin by sewing the heel piece to the sole. I changed my machine needle to a larger number to deal with the thick fabric before sewing.

Those quilting clips really came in handy today!

After attaching the heels, a piece of elastic is sewn at the upper edges. I then turned the top edge over to conceal the elastic.

Notice that I trimmed away the fleece from the seam allowances.

Next comes the toe piece. I again sheared back the fleece from the seam allowances on both pieces before stitching.

After turning right side out I have a pair of cute suede boots.

All that remains to be done is to sew in some fasteners. I’m thinking of going with Velcro, since it can be adjusted for fat or thin baby ankles.

Yes! Soft AND warm. My little friends approve.