I like Spring. I like just about everything about Spring. It’s the time of year when we can sleep with windows open, the days are getting longer and warmer. The earth’s growing things burst forth with an abundance of new growth. Most of that growth starts out in a yellow-green color that I call Spring Green.
This luscious shade can be painted with a mixture of lemon yellow and cool blue pigments.
Last spring, I was inspired by a post on Kate Davies’ blog showing a view from her garden shed. The weather was wet. There were big raindrops dripping down the glass. While the view itself was out of focus, it was radiantly colored – mainly in spring green.
It was so inspiring that I tried to capture the color sequence on a piece of cotton with fabric paint.
I think I was successful. After I painted it, the piece languished on my design wall for a year. I was busy with other projects that had overtaken my attention. But with the coming of spring I feel inspired to return to the subject. The painted cloth will become the background of the art quilt. For the foreground, I will focus on seedlings.
This quilt will challenge my technical abilities as I intend to hand embroider the plantlets using wool yarn and/or cotton floss.
……using this Tunis breed hand painted yarn, I am now keen to make matching gloves. The bright green sock yarn that I paired it with for the hat is almost gone. So I will need another coordinating yarn if I want to add colorwork to the gloves.
After a lengthy rummage to the back of my yarn closet, I came up with some two-ply wool in a pleasing shade of teal. This yarn is Palette, from Knitpicks. Almost a full skein, it has been languishing in the back of the stash for at least seven years. How fortunate that the color goes so well with the multi-hued Tunis.
You see that a cuff is underway. I made an I-cord about 7 inches long, joined its ends and picked up stitches all along. The 2 x 2 rib will give enough stretch. Now I must decide on the stitch pattern for the palm.
I plan to use a basic glove pattern similar to this one.
Instead of regular stripes, I will go with a mosaic, or slip stitch, pattern. I have a hankering to try this one, designed by Naomi at String Geekery. It is called Sea.
Well, it started out as a bad knitting week. The hat that I cast on the prior week was progressing. But it seemed to be pretty small for an adult hat. After I knit a few inches of the 1 x 1 ribbing, I took a quick measurement. My measurement suggested that it was indeed too small. So I started again, but knit the next larger size. In the bigger size, the ribbing took forever to knit. I rejoiced when I got to the crown. The colorwork was quite fun and I worked quickly to the bind off.
Immediately after I took it off the needle I knew I was in trouble. It was so big! There’s no way that this hat would stay put on my head. Even after washing and drying (I tossed it in a warm dryer to try to shrink it a little,) it was huge.
There ensued a few days of low spirits. (The news cycle, of course, made me feel even worse.) Eventually I stopped moping and tried to solve my problem. My first thought was to cut off the ribbing, pick up the stitches, knitting several together, and work down to the edge. But then I decided to fold the brim in half, folding to the inside and whip stitch it in place. That’s a little better. What if I added a hat band with less stretch in a slightly smaller diameter………..
I found a coordinating color yarn in my stash and cut six lengths. These were crocheted into a chain about 21 inches long. Stretching the chain slightly, I sewed it around the upper part of the ribbing, where a hat band is generally located.
Bingo! Problem solved.
And I have enough variegated yarn left to knit a pair of gloves.
First of all, everyone said “Keep the fence.” Many of you liked the wine-purple color, but some agreed with me that an adjustment of some kind was needed.
I did try options 1 and 2.
Option 1: Start over with another fabric. Here are the samples I painted on the white fabric. I decided that it was a fun exercise, but just didn’t look too fence-like.
Option 2: I applied a wash of a cool blue color to tone down the strident red violet.
It just plain didn’t work as intended. To my eye, this is worse than before.
In the end, I chose to start again with the original fabric, for the same reason that I picked this fabric in the first place. The print had an earthy, woody texture to it. This time I mixed my violet paint with enough azure blue to create a sort of periwinkle or lavender tone. I also modified my foam brush by cutting notches into it.
Thanks to all who participated in the game. Your encouragement and positive remarks let me feel the community around me. I wish I could give you each a hug.
Now I can move on to sewing. I’ll start with a little hand embroidery on the flowers.
This is a qualified finish. I still need to quilt the border and bind the edges. But the creative work is essentially done. I chose to use echo lines to quilt the background. The work went swiftly and smoothly.
The cotton damask fabric is a joy to work with. I had the benefit of a fresh needle in my machine, thanks to the delivery of my on-line order from Bluprint.com.
Following the example of Lola Jenkins, I used Prismacolor pencils to color the image. I had never tried this medium on fabric before. But by working slowly and carefully, I managed okay, rendering shadow and highlights modestly. Here she is as of today.
Here is a close-up of the subject.
I noticed that a damask vine landed smack in the middle of her onesie. I didn’t plan that placement, but serendipity happens. So I chose to leave it unpainted and embroidered a running stitch around it.
At 18 inches square, this piece is a good size for framing or mounting on artist canvas. Perhaps the arts supply store will open soon and I can buy what I need. In the meantime, she will be tacked up on one of my foamboard panels, allowing me to admire her on a regular basis.
Last week I wrote about painting heavy weight DMC thread with fabric paint. Just now, I finished embroidering my quilt with the thread. Before I do a “reveal” of the finished quilt (it isn’t quite sewn together yet) I want to show how I used the thread.
Essentially, I created little scenes that tell a story of looking up at the Gateway Arch.
I had no real difficulty embroidering with the threads. They do not appear to be bleeding color at all. I wish I could say the same for the quilt fabric, some of the paint rubbed off on my quilting gloves.
The important thing right now is that the End Is In Sight! A little assembly and sewing on the binding and it will be done.
So far I have found myself frequently frustrated while shopping in my local craft store for decorative topstitch thread. My local craft store, which is a Hobby Lobby ( I have a love-hate relationship with H-L,) has a limited selection of quilting threads, none of which are what I am wanting for my current project. And the threads that are available are not particularly affordable.
I have nothing to lose in experimenting with painting my own thread. (Not be confused with thread painting, a hand embroidery craft in which stitches are worked densely to create a painterly landscape of thread on fabric.) I have everything I need.
1. A 50 gram spool of 100% cotton DMC thread no. 10 in an off-white color. 2 Assorted jars of Jacquard Dye-Na-Flo fabric paint. 3. water proof freezer paper. 4. latex gloves.
After coiling several yards of thread and tying them together with string, I let the thread soak in the paint for about ten minutes. Wearing latex gloves I lifted the coil from the paint, squeezed out the excess and laid the threads on paper. Drying took several hours. The next day I pressed the dried thread with a hot iron, under a pressing cloth, for about 30 seconds. This was my attempt to fix the color. Because Jacquard Dye-Na-Flo is an acrylic paint, it is essentially color-fast from the moment it dries. But if you want to use the paint on an item that will be washed, I would recommend letting it cure for at least a week before washing.
Here are my hand-painted threads wound on spools.
I love that the paint gave the thread a variegated effect. I’m not sure if this happened because I mixed paint colors together or because I had a cord tied around the coil. It certainly makes for a splashy look.
So far I haven’t noticed any color bleed on my sample fabric. Tomorrow I will start using it on my quilt. I’m excited to see how that goes.
The message came in over the week-end, with a tone of some urgency. It seems that the baby toddler girl had outgrown her hats, and the carefully saved wool hat of #1 grandchild was no where to be found. With the onset of cold weather, there was no time to waste in meeting the need.
The criteria was pretty simple. Earflaps were desired and a cord to tie the hat under the chin. Consulting my stash I found an almost full ball of Cascade 220 Superwash in a pale yellow color. I had purchased this yarn two years ago when I first learned of the baby’s expected arrival. I was excited to try out some stranded patterns using this yarn and various bits and bobs left over from other projects.
First I consulted my knitting stitch dictionary (750 Knitting Stitches – The Ultimate Knitting Bible.) For this project I needed a pattern with a fairly short repeat. I also needed a motif that would fit on the ear flaps.
These two will do nicely. Cosmea will work for the earflaps and Aubrieta can circle the body of the hat. I also liked that the pattern repeat was six stitches. With my gauge of 5.5 stitches, a multiple of six will help me achieve the 18 inch diameter I needed. Here is my chart for the earflap and body, and my calculation for the cast on. I came up with a total of 96 stitches, which is divisible by six.
Ear Flaps done.
After casting on, I completed a modified version of Aubrieta, stopping when the hat body was 4 and 3/4 inches tall from cast on. Next I consulted the pattern I had used ten years ago for grandchild #1’s hat to figure out the crown decrease rate. I added a few rows of dots in the first three rounds of decrease, then completed the rest of the decrease in the solid yellow yarn.
This was a fun and quick project to make from one’s stash. I was pleased that I could use up some yarn scraps of a beautiful Malibrigo yarn that was left over from my blue ribbon vest.
UPDATE: Hat was received, and put into use quickly. Not only does it cover the ears, it covers the cheeks as well. It’s so big that it will still fit her next winter.
During a shopping excursion to Tulsa, we stopped by the 108 Contemporary Gallery to catch a new show – State of Craft. Works in various media, including fiber, were on display. I thought it would be good to check it out.
There were some large works such as this one by Whitney Fortsyth.
Interesting wood items like this one by Rusty Johnson.
And then there were fiber objects, mostly smaller but exquisite.
A large work with a fish-eye mirror in the center. White linen with beads.
I particularly like these bags by Rhonda Steiner, hand dyed, painted, and screen printed.
And finally, there were some yarn objects, felted, crocheted and knitted.
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.