Posted in painting

Color Study

I’m interested in doing a few watercolor portraits. Today I am studying this photograph that I took of my daughter wearing a shawl I knit.

I chose this because of the variety of textures and contrasting values. Her pose is also very interesting to me.

So far, I have cropped the image and penciled the shapes onto watercolor paper. But before jumping into painting, I thought I would test out a few color selections in my sketchbook.

Some good options

A good start. The background is not dark enough, but I like the shawl colors. I can add more layers of paint to the background. That hair is too orange! It will be useful to attempt another study of the head before I move on.


Today I corrected values, added detail to the background and refined the face.

Posted in embellishing, painting, quilting

Experiment with Stitch and Slash

While perusing available art quilt technique tutorials, I discovered another use for my hand-painted fabrics. Carol Ann Waugh teaches a modern take on reverse applique in her class on Craftsy. She calls it Stitch and Slash. It was inspired by the traditional molas made by the Kuna women of Panama.

In Carol’s interpretation of the mola, four pieces of fabric are selected and layered together. Then a design is chosen, marked on the back of the pile and stitched into layers. The similarity with the traditional molas stops here, when Carol gets out her seam ripper and slashes away at the assembled fabric Instead of nice, neatly stitched edges, she ends up with frayed, textured ones.

Okay, I thought, I have the perfect set of fabrics to try this out.

The two painted pieces are layered with a dark green batik print and a brown textured print. You see here the back side of the brown fabric, which I will be using for the top layer. Nearly all of the this layer will be cut (or torn) away.

Here is the back of my piece, showing marks stitched through.

Getting started with the slashing: You see in this photo all the top layer is gone, part of layer two gone, and the center of the circles showing the bottom layer.

This ripping took more time and was a little trickier than I expected.

All the excess fabric is now removed.

I was excited by how well the painted design is showcased.

The next steps are really just embellishments. To start, various ribbons and yarns are couched down over the seams. (Couching is just a zig-zag stitch worked over the ribbon/yarn/cord.) After that, it’s time to explore thread and machine embroidery options. I went with metallic yarns and threads in warm colors and dark shades.

To finish up, I made a quilt sandwich with batting and backing and stitched it together using free motion quilting.

My Stitch and Slash sample suggests to me how much the trees are suffering from drought and temperatures above 100 degrees. I will call it Heat Wave.

You can find Carol Ann Waugh’s class here:

Posted in knitting

Cast-on Monday: Search and Swatch

So my objective for this week is to prepare to knit socks – at least 4 pair! Just to make things interesting, I have set up a few criteria for these projects.

  1. They will use as much of my stash yarn as possible. You can see in the photo above that I have a fair selection which includes DK as well as fingering weight. Having gathered my yarns together in this bowl certainly helps me begin to think about color pairing of partial balls.
  2. I will choose patterns new to me so that I will have variety and new skills to learn.
  3. The new patterns will be available on-line from free pattern sources.

So far, I’m doing pretty good! I had no trouble finding patterns that I like without spending a dime. Some of these are written for DK weight. Here are my choices of patterns so far and the swatches I worked up for them.


Making use of a very graphical but easy stranded design, this pattern is knit at 24 stitches per 4 inches. These socks look fun, sturdy and very warm. The yarn I swatched here is Knitpicks Hawthorne Bare in a dk weight and Berroco Vintage dk. Full disclosure regarding the pattern: I downloaded it a few years ago and now can no longer find it on the ‘Net. I did see similar designs offered on the Novita website.


This pattern by Ema Marinescu is available through She says the design was born “from my finally embracing variegated yarn.” To achieve this effect, the yarn chosen should have short color changes. This skein of Wisco Sock in colorway Caterpillar by Ewetopia certainly qualifies. With a tight gauge (34 st per 4 inches) and slipped stitch pattern, the resulting socks can’t help but be warm and sturdy.


I have already made this Universal Yarn sock pattern once for my granddaughter. This time around, I will change it up by replacing the Lemon Drops chart with the Bunny Got Back chart, which is a sock pattern also offered by Universal Yarn. The designer is Amy Gunderson. The main color is an unidentified skein of cream wool in my stash. I’m pretty sure it is a superwash wool from Knitpicks. The variegated yarn is also Knitpicks and the solid dark is Berroco Heritage sock weight.


I’m pretty excited to try this pattern. Designed by Amy Christoffers for Berroco, Fairlee is designed for their Vintage dk yarn. She calls them slipper socks, so they will be great for scooting around the house during winter. But I think they will also work well inside boots during the worst winter weather. I’m showing a swatch of Berroco Vintage dk, but I will need to purchase more of this yarn to make these socks. My stash is a bit lacking in this weight.

Okay, so I’m keen to get started. If any of these patterns interest you, you may want to click through the following links:

Novita website:


Bunny Got Back:

Lemon Drop Socks:


Posted in painting

Watercolor Jack

It’s been a very long time since I have seen one of these in the wild:

Photograph by Mitch Zeissler

When I was a child roaming the woods in Ohio, we called this plant Jack-in-the-pulpit. This very wonderful photograph brought back memories and enticed me to try a watercolor version of it.

Sketch and initial wash on the background.

Finished painting

Most of the paints were Daniel Smith, a few Winsor & Newton. I used yellow ochre, green-gold, Winsor green, ultramarine blue, carbazole violet, alizarin crimson and quinacridone red. I also placed a few dabs of white gouache. Paper is Fabriano Studio cold press.

Posted in quilting

Friday Finish: Baby Quilt

Yesterday, I learned that baby quilts are the best!

Looking back at my notes, I realized that I started making this quilt only two weeks ago. Last week, in my letter to mom, I gave a few details about this project: 1. Based on a pattern by Erica Jackman, of Kitchen Table Quilting. 2. Color palette to match recipient’s nursery theme of teddy bears. 3. Background fabric and batting came from my mother’s stash.

Top completed, sandwiched and ready for quilting

And now the quilt is finished.

I say baby quilts are the best because:

  • They are suitable for a lot of fun colors and novel fabrics.
  • They don’t take much yardage, which keeps the cost down.
  • They are perfect for using up stash fabrics.
  • They can be quilted on an ordinary home sewing machine.
  • They are quick to make!
Quilted and bound

I quilted it using the walking foot – stitch in the ditch and straight-line quilting,

It was so much fun that I am actively seeking out another expectant family so I have a reason to make another one.

If you like this pattern, check out Erica’s website.

Posted in drawing, painting

Intuitive Mark-Making

Last Saturday, I was wanting to just mess around with mark-making in my sketchbook. As I opened my pen case, I spied a dip pen that I had purchased, but never really used. Grabbing a bottle of Sumi ink, I got busy. It was fun! After I had marked up the paper quite a bit, I added some watercolor crayon for color, and spritzed water on sections.

That exercise left me warmed up and wanting to do more. I turned to this photograph of Mogadore reservoir that I had taken while visiting Ohio in November of 2020.

After blocking the scene in pencil, I used watercolors to paint the background. The dip pen and ink came into use for the foreground branches.

This little 4 x 6 painting will be a nice postcard to send home.

Posted in painting

Life is a………

Last month at Open Studio, expert watercolorist Cheryl Bryan presented this example to our group. The lesson was about painting in shadows.

I wanted to do this lesson, but felt that painting five cherries was not enough subject matter to keep my interest. So I chose this reference photograph, to supplement Cheryl’s example.

Initial sketch:

Lots of masking fluid added:

First washes, background and beginning to paint the subject.

To get this subject to work, each cherry must be painted individually, with multiple colors of paint worked in.

Most of the painting is finished, masking fluid removed.


The cherries look luscious, but my favorite thing is the bowl. What a dreamy color!

Posted in quilting

Dear Mom

Good morning, Mom. I hope you are well.

Today I’m writing to let you know how much I am enjoying the materials and tools I collected from your sewing room in May. You were so generous to let us kids have whatever we wanted.

It’s interesting to see how just a few tools have made my work so much easier. Let’s start with your big purple Martinelli self-healing mat. I can cut whole yardage into strips with ease and accuracy using this mat. Another thing I am grateful for is the tabletop wool pressing pad. I recently used both of these tools to cut, sew,press and square-up a whole bunch of half-square triangles.

Let me tell you about a few projects where I used some fabric from your stash.

I found about a quarter yard of striped cotton with black warp threads. It turned out to be just right as a binding for my Shell Lake Story quilt.

I worked the free-motion quilting on this piece wearing a pair of your quilting gloves. They fit me perfectly. Looking down at my hands I imagined how your energy, which these gloves retained, radiated back to me. I felt loved and powerful.

My next project is a baby quilt for Jasmine and Stephen’s son, expected in August. I’m certain that, if you were able, you would be working on a quilt for this baby already. In your stash was a crib-sized batt still in its package and a yard of buff color solid quilting cotton – very high-quality stuff. (I know it was a yard because you had measured and labelled it so!) It is just enough for a baby quilt background.

After speaking with Stephen’s mom, Debbie, I learned that the couple had chosen teddy bears for the nursery room theme with a color palette of blues and neutrals. Using the buff and several stash fabrics, I put together a quilt top from a pattern called Elena. It features a nine-patch block with two corners of half-square triangles.

With a backing in tumbling teddy bear fabric that I bought on the Internet, this quilt is a dream to make. The top is almost done.

Well, that’s about all I have to share today. Take care of yourself and give my love to dad and the siblings.

Love, Laura