Posted in knitting, weaving, sewing

Back Home

Yesterday we arrived home after spending a week in Wisconsin. The trip was undertaken to help our daughter and her family prepare for a move. It was a weird and wonderful trip. With constant changes implemented by the authorities in the states we traveled through, we never knew what to expect from day to day. Thankfully, many businesses on the interstate highways remained open to provide for the necessities of travelers. All the staff we encountered along the way were both kind and helpful.

The trip was a success. While we stayed with the kids, daughter and son-in-law found and put an offer in on a suitable house in Madison. That’s a big hurdle accomplished.

I discovered a new travel craft – weaving on the little 8 by 10 artists’ canvas loom. All the materials fit into an average size project bag, and the motions of the fiber artist do not ever distract the driver. You see in the photo above my attempt to create an S-curve out of two colors of yarn.

I received two items from daughter that will inspire future fiber objects:

The Vogue Knitting book is a delightful compilation of the best of the Vogue Knitting magazine, from the 1980s through to 2011. Lots of inspiration is here. I have my eye on a couple of patterns found within. Of most value to me are the charts of various lace stitches.

This little book is called omiyage, by Kumiko Sudo. It was purchased by my mom, who passed it to daughter, who gave it to me. The Japanese have a thousand-year-old practice of making and giving small gifts. Back then there were strict rules and a great deal of formality surrounding this ritual. The author re-interprets omiyage for modern times, using fabrics both traditional and modern. As she is a quilter, she pulls fabrics from her stash of quilting cotton, and incorporates bits of silk and wool as well. I plan to try making some Good Luck dolls.

Traditionally these dolls were the focal point for a festival called Girl’s Day. I think they would be wonderful made from some of my hand-painted fabrics. Because they are small, making one should be a fun, inexpensive and quick project.

Well, I am keen to resume my making. The Just Trees mini quilt is still unfinished and I would like to get that weaving off the loom soon.

Until next time, keeping making and be well.

Posted in weaving

Fun, Kid-Friendly Fiber Art Lesson

Dear friends: Due to travel plans I will not be able to post blogs for the next week or so. So today I have for you a project that you can do at home, with your kids or with yourself. This is the last lesson I did with my fiber arts kids, ages ranging from eight to fourteen. They all enjoyed it. I call it:

WEAVING ON A FRAME LOOM.

After spending weeks looking for some inexpensive frame looms that were more than just toys, I decided to make them myself. I found a package of ten 8 by 10 inch stretched canvas artist frames for $13 at a local Walmart. I bought a box of 1 inch panel board nails and a tack hammer at the local hardware big box store. After marking every 3/10th of an inch across the top and bottom of the frames, I tapped the nails about half-way in. ( I used the needle nose pliers to hold nails in place. That was a tip from my husband) Voila: loom. After a few hours of hammering I had made ten looms for less than 25 dollars.

Next I fashioned some shuttles by cutting 8 inch by 1 and 1/2 inch rectangles from matt board. You can use any sturdy cardboard you can get your hands on. I made a few from posterboard which worked okay – just tended to bend too much. Cut each narrow end into arrow shapes, then slice straight down into the center of each end about an inch. I removed a narrow sliver from this slot. Here is my finished shuttle. Make more than one so that you can have multiple colors of yarn ready.

You will need the following materials and tools to get weaving: cotton yarn or string for making warp, yarn, string of other fiber stuff for weft threads, wide craft sticks about 8 inches long, scissors, tapestry needles and a plastic fork which serves as a beater and of course, your home-made loom and shuttles.

Procedure: Using a cotton of other sturdy thread, tie one end to lower right nail. Begin wrapping by stretching yarn up to corresponding top nail, then back down to next bottom nail, up, down and so on until all the nails are wrapped. Be sure to keep the yarn moderately taut. Tie the end of the warp thread securely to the final thread. I used a surgeon’s knot, but a double half-hitch will also work. Wind your shuttles with about three feet of yarn.

Use the craft sticks as weaving sticks: weave one stick in and out of warp threads all the way across your loom. Push this stick to the top of your loom. Now work another stick through the warp going the opposite way, that is, the over threads are now unders and the unders are overs. Push this stick up next to the first stick. To open a shed, you just twist the lower stick. Run your shuttle through the opening, spreading weft thread evenly. Drop the stick and remove it. Now mash your first weft thread evenly down to the bottom of the loom. Open the alternate shed with the remaining stick and run your shuttle back through. You can leave the top stick in place, but you will need to reset your bottom stick every time. Such is the fate of a weaver using a primitive loom. If you don’t like using the shuttles, you can weave with yarn and a tapestry needle. The down side is that you will use shorter lengths of yarn and have to rethread often.

There’s lots of little techniques you can use to vary your weaving. To carry the first color up the side of your weaving, wrap the second color around the first before the next pass of the shuttle. With each pass of the shuttle the yarn will be covered as it moves along to the location of its next use.

Have fun. I am attaching a pdf file with the complete lesson. Since I have never done this before, I hope that it is useable.

Posted in knitting

Weaver’s Square Vest Reveal

Completing the front of the vest didn’t take very long. I chose to use a 1 by 2 rib which matched the edge rib of the vest back. The front hem carries on the same stitch and colors of the back hem – brown with a purple stripe – to provide more unity to the garment. The neckline is a wide V and the button placket is garter stitch. The only hiccup I encountered was that the garter rows proved to be tighter than the rib rows, (naturally) and I had to throw in a few short rows to compensate. Here are the front pieces on the blocking mats.

And here is the finished vest.

I’m pleased with how it turned out. And here I am turned around.

The side seams were sewn with mattress stitch. I like that the vest shows both the serious side and the fun side of the wearer’s personality.

All yarn is from KnitPicks. Thank you to Kieran Foley and knit/lab for creating the Weaver’s Square design.

https://www.kieranfoley.com/

Posted in painting, quilting

Just Trees in Progress

It’s a cold, drippy, soggy-ground day here. Even with the sun behind a cloud, one can revel in the beauty of Spring arriving. This is our neighbor’s tulip magnolia which overhangs the fence in our yard. It is robed in amazing color just a handful of days every year. So I put on shoes and went out into the wet to capture its moment of glory.

Yucky weather seems to give one full permission to huddle indoors and work on fiber objects. The Weaver’s Square vest is within three inches of being fully knitted. I should have a good image to post in a couple of more days.

Here is a progress photo showing work on my latest fiber object, which I call “Just Trees.” I have cut and basted four rows of clam shell shapes, then painted each with a tree.

My original intent was to paint all trees without leaves. But hey, I can’t ignore the burst of color right outside my window. The three trees with black trunks and pink tops are meant to be redbuds. It is a native tree that puts on screaming pink to magenta blossoms in mid Spring – usually before any of the other hardwood trees have even leafed out.

I think three redbuds will be enough to create a nice focal point.

So far the top two rows of appliques have been stitched – by hand – into place. This step is only a little bit tricky. But patience and persistence always yield results.

With a continuation of rainy weather and the unceasing announcements of event cancellations, I may easily finish this object before next weekend.

Posted in painting, quilting

Tree Tops and Paper Piecing

A few months ago, I had a phone conversation with my daughter while she was on a walk. As we chatted about sundry things, she said, “I just love trees. I could draw nothing but trees and never get tired of them.” I wholeheartedly agreed. In fact, I have been thinking about making a fiber object based on trees for months. To that end, I have been taking photos of the trees in their winter nakedness.

Finally I have come up with a plan and a design for the trees. And I owe it all to paper piecing with clamshells.

Non-quilters now have no clue about what I am trying to say. My apologies. But the quilters among us will recognize the context of “clamshell” and “paper piecing”. This applique shape is one of the classics. Rather than try to describe it, I direct you to Pinterest, with the instructions to search on “quilt clam shell pattern.”

Here is an example:

Cute, right? But for me, I can hardly look at this quilt WITHOUT thinking Tree Tops.

I decided to try paper piecing with clamshells after viewing a tutorial on BluPrint.com. The instructor uses the applique stitch to sew the clamshell shapes onto a tote bag.

https://shop.mybluprint.com/quilting/classes/giftable-projects-english-paper-piecing/715557

To get started, I searched for an object with a 4 inch diameter, and then drew around it until I had several clamshells.

A roll of masking tape turned out to be the perfect size.

After photo copying this sheet four times on cardstock, I had enough pieces. Each applique will need one of these pieces of paper inserted to form the half-dome shape.

Here are four of them.

Next I made a thumbnail sketch to work out the size, applique placements and design.

Since I used pencil this image is a bit faint. So sorry.

The next step was to paint the sky on white fabric. This will serve as a background and base fabric for my appliques. I used Dye-Na-Flow paint and lots of water.

At this point, I will need to practice painting the trees onto the appliques. But my mojo is flowing well, and I am excited to get this fiber object to its next stage.

Posted in hand embroidery, painting, quilting

Daily Fiber for One Year

Two Daisy Squared

Yes, friends, today marks one year since I started experimenting in the fiber arts and posting the results of my efforts. This mini quilt is my most recent object. It’s quite a fitting testimony to my adventures, because it showcases so many of the techniques that I have learned along the way. I have used fabric paint to tint the daisies, then mixed some of my hand painted fabrics with a few solids and prints to fashion the blocks. The whole thing was ditch stitched. I then hand quilted on top of the blocks with embroidery floss. Lastly, I painted enough fabric to border the whole piece. The completed work is sewn over a 16 inch square of artist canvas.

Let’s take a brief look back on how I got here.

Painting fabric with Dye-Na-Flow acrylic paint. Sun print using marbles and rice.

My enthusiasm for hand painting fabric actually started when I took a class on how to do this and then taught a class last spring. It was a big hit with all ages. I continue to experiment and now use this craft as a vital source of uniquely colored fabric.

Embroidered prayer flag.

As a girl, I embroidered my share of humdrum tea towels and pillowcase hems. But today – embroidery artists have moved this craft to new heights. I could never be that good. Or could I? I began to practice some basic stitches and decided that embroidery has a place in my work. For this project, I appliqued, embroidered and wrote with fabric markers to make five prayer flags. Here you see the Earth flag.

My first log cabin mini quilt, using hand-painted fabric

Quilting. Whoa. My mother is the most expert quilter that I know. She generously gave me her Bernina sewing machine. It seemed inevitable that I dip my toe into the venerable art of machine quilting. Any fiber artist worthy of the title needs to have some skill in putting together a quilt. And while I never expect to cover any beds with my quilts, I do see it as a robust art well suited for expressing my ideas.

Improv Mini Quilt with curved piecing.

So by mid July, I was experimenting with improvisational mini quilts. These small gems are fun to do and can be completed in a day. In this one, I have combined applique, machine quilting and embroidery. If the machine stitching looks a little bunched up, it’s because I had not found my machine’s walking foot yet. It’s now in active use.

That about sums up my thoughts on a year of fiber objects. When I began this blog, I expected to use the site simply as a personal diary. My goal was to record my work and my thoughts about the work. But then nearly 100 readers found my site. I have such gratitude to those who choose to read and to comment on my humble posts. Your interaction with me has enriched me and my craft in many ways. I thank you for your time and caring attention.

Posted in knitting

Milestone for Weaver’s Square Vest

Back is Finished!

I bound off the back of the vest last night. Today it is drying on my blocking mat. Despite the fact that it looked Very Small and Narrow the whole time I was knitting, it turned out to match the gauge of my blocked swatch. Hooray! As all knitters will surmise by looking at the photo, there are a gazillion ends to weave in. That will occupy me for a few hours.

Here is the schematic I drew for the making the vest front.

I will be using a superwash Peruvian wool yarn from Knit Picks called Merlot Heather. To make the vest fit close to the body, the stitch pattern will be a broken rib stitch and there will be waist shaping decrease-increase stitches near the natural waist. Buttons?

Still undecided.

Posted in quilting

Inspired by Tangoes

Actually, this experiment came to mind while I was viewing Cindy Anderson’s blog “Sew Much Fun.” She had made some quilt blocks in the shape of birds. Check it out here:

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/35439603/posts/27018

After admiring her work, I began to think that it reminded me of the puzzle Tangoes.

This ancient Chinese puzzle started when a man named Tan dropped a 4 inch tile on the floor and it broke into seven pieces. Putting the pieces back together proved more challenging than he expected. Eventually, Tan began to visualize various forms that could be built with the seven shapes – animals, people and abstract forms.

Over the years the puzzle gained a large following, resulting in up to 16,000 possible solutions. The version that I have includes a deck of cards with 54 solutions. I decided to design a quilt block out of one of these images. Here is the one I chose:

To start with, I searched the Internet to see if anyone else has published a quilt block that looks like this arrow. While I found many different forms of arrow shaped blocks, none resembled this design.

Realizing that the design is actually a made from two triangles, I tried to make each triangle and them sew them together. After much cutting, pressing and sewing, I came up with this. It is actually a full inch bigger than the Tango shape.

A good start, but the proportions are wrong and it was very wasteful to make. Hm,

So I slept on it. It finally occurred to me that I could solve the lower triangle by making the stem of the Maple Leaf block. And the upper triangle could be solved by making a nine patch block, with two solid strips and one 3-patch strip then slicing the block on the diagonal. This solution would allow mass production of the block with a lot less waste.

Middle strip of nine-patch which includes the light square
Maple Leaf stem block, after slicing it diagonally.
Nine patch ready to be sliced diagonally and sewn to the stem triangle
The two triangles sewn together.

Here is my solution compared to the Tangoes solution. It’s still not quite right…

But it is close enough to require only tweaking. I would like to narrow the stem and widen the arrowhead. Also, it would be good to make the external block dimension 4 and 1/2 inches square, so that the finished size will end up a 4 inch square. (Sigh) I do believe a little math will be necessary if I hope to use this quilt block in a future fiber object.

Posted in painting

Painting Fun

It’s a drippy, rainy, cold and dark day here. In my brightly lit studio, I am practicing my water color painting techniques. Here is a little photograph I took last summer, during brighter and warmer days.

I don’t know what species this little bug is, but today he is an artist’s model. I was inspired by this image because of its textures – rough, warm brick and cool, smooth, green beetle carapace. Most of my time was spent trying to get the pock-marked and moldy brick down on paper. One tactic I used was painting the terra cotta lines in the brick with the edge of a credit card. It worked pretty well. Matching a paint color to the bug’s body was another difficult challenge. In the end, I used Micron pens in turquoise, bright green and black ink to draw in the beetle. Then I brushed on water to blend the ink lines.

This photograph came out exceptionally cool in tones because of the weak outdoor light. But I am happy with the painting itself. If I were to paint this image again, I would make the dark areas darker, especially the beetle’s shadow.

Posted in knitting, painting, quilting

Catch-Up Friday

Since I didn’t finish any of my fiber objects this week, I have decided to write a progress report. You see above about ten inches of the Weaver’s Square pattern, which will become a colorful vest for my daughter. This is the back of the garment. The front I have planned will be much more subdued. While working with seven strands of yarn each row has been a challenge, the satisfaction of the work and the excitement of seeing the color emerge has more than compensated for any difficulty. I have chosen to switch out the vertical colors at a rate of two or three for every band of horizontal color. As a result, the pattern has a more vertical effect.

Log Cabin Mini Quilt

Another work in progress is picture above. The quilt sandwich is constructed and some stitch in the ditch took place. At that point, I decided to work some embroidery in the flower squares and add hand quilting to the strips.

Blue block nearly finished.

I also felt that a border was essential to provide balance between the light and the dark sections of the piece. Going further, I plan to hand-paint this border in multiple hues. It will be exciting to see how well that goes, and it will take me more time.

Last week-end I started a tutorial on painting with water color on paper. This class was offered on Bluprint.com. Despite a little trepidation, I am sharing my work today. Keep in mind I am a rank beginner and be kind.

Seascape at daybreak with birds.
Color Block using primary colors, salt, colored pencil and micron pens.
Realistic style chickadee

Such a fun week. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to remind me that this life is real.