Posted in collage, colorwork

Inspired by a Bird

The idea for this fiber object came to me one morning while porch-sitting with a book. It was a gorgeous day, but I was poring intently, with all my focus, on the book in hand. Surprisingly, I no longer remember what I was reading. The probable cause of this memory lapse was the very thing that intruded upon my thoughts. A catbird had begun an insistent and virtuosic song. The sound tore my mind from my book and into the present moment. Looking about, I failed to spot him. So instead of continuing to search with my eyes, I closed them and sat back in my chair.

Pretending that I possessed synesthesia, I imagined what that birdsong might look like, if it were visible. There were deep chortles and murmurs, but also squeaks, shrieks and ascending melodies. It went on and on. And on. Eventually the catbird flew off.

Here’s what I wrote in my journal: “Sky-inspired painted background. Reverse applique to suggest an unseen bird. Throaty -chortling purples, warm tones high pitch trills – bright white squeaks. dashed gestural lines to suggest direction of pitch. Parallel wavy lines for a musical staff.”

All very poetic. But I want to make a piece of visual art, and as such it must have form.

This week I got underway. Since my fabric paints were out, I started with the background. On a piece of white quilting cotton I stroked colors that I thought would make a good sky at daybreak – pale blue, violet, peach and gold. I achieved this rather startling canvas:

Paint is still wet here

What sort of a sky has leaf and dark green in it? None I’d ever seen. I was prepared to set it aside and start again. But on second thought, I chose to continue with this background. The unconventional sky colors can represent the effect of birdsong on the air. Here is my bright background after it dried.

Next comes the sketch. I put the catbird’s silhouette in the lower left.

Now the hard part. Searching my fabrics for the colors mentioned in the journal, I found some purples and some brassy bright scraps. Also a few interesting prints. Most of yesterday was occupied with choosing, cutting and attaching fusible to the back of my chosen fabrics. Here is what this applique quilt looked like at the end of the day.

“Catbird Sings” stage one
Close up

While I am keen to get on with this work, I need some supplies. So I will have to pause pending a visit to the craft store.

Posted in colorwork

Wednesday Color Experiments

While perusing Bethan Ash’s book on quilt collages, I suddenly realized something.

I have been experimenting with fabric paint on quilt cotton for the past two years. And yet I have never used the most basic of all paint techniques: Spatter!

I decided to remedy that omission today. First, I went to my fabric stash and picked up some muslin.

This most basic of all fabrics is lightweight and inexpensive. I cut a width of fabric piece, dividing into three rectangles to match the size of my work surface.

I decided on three color schemes: primary colors, secondary colors and artist’s choice option. For my spatter tools, I chose a 2 inch brush, 1 inch foam brushes and a toothbrush.

After pressing the muslin, I laid the first piece on my white board. Then I spritzed it lightly with water. Working from lightest to darkest shade, I dipped the brush into the paint and then shook, jiggled, and tapped it over the muslin until the drops reached all areas of the fabric.

Yellow, Red and Blue

Since it was a sunny day, I took the first one outside so it could dry quickly right on the board. Once dried, I moved on to the secondary colors.

Orange, Green, Violet

This is a very pretty combination.

For my last combination of colors, I chose magenta as the first color. I had purchased this paint recently and hadn’t even opened the jar. To accompany the magenta, I mixed the left-over violet with the left-over blue to get a cool purple. The third color will be black.

I like this sample the best.

You may be wondering how I plan to used these samples. Well…….I’m not exactly sure. But since I am pondering improvisational collage quilts today, odds are good that they will get fusible adhesive attached to them and cut up into smallish pieces.

Then I will play.

Posted in colorwork, knitting

Cast-on Monday – Summer Style

I’m a bit restless with knitting the Vogue sweater. I am about halfway finished with the sleeves and the back. There are long stretches of stockinette stitch yet to do. So to break things up a bit, I’ve cast on a new project using Berroco Remix yarn.

I picked up three skeins of this yarn while in Madison during March. Made from 100% recycled fibers, it is a blend of nylon, cotton, acrylic, silk and linen.

While perusing Ravelry, I spotted this pattern by Anna Schei which will be perfect for my intended use.

Ravelry: Polkastripe pattern by Trekkentar Deg

This vest will be for my granddaughter. She is not quite three and very interested in dressing herself. The sprightly mosaic stitch pattern reminds me of her crazy-happy personality.

One small concern: The pattern is written in Norwegian. Fortunately, the color chart transcends language limitations and it is all I really needed from the original pattern. I will be adapting it to include a button-up front. My little one needs to practice her buttoning skills.

And here is my swatch.

This stitch is pretty fun to work and to admire!

Okay, back to my needles.

Posted in colorwork, painting

Spring Green

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.

Photo by Pixabay on

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.

Photo by Akil Mazumder on

This quilt will challenge my technical abilities as I intend to hand embroider the plantlets using wool yarn and/or cotton floss.

Slow Work is in my future.

Posted in colorwork, knitting

Cast on Monday – Deep Stash

With the success of the rose window hat…..

……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.

I like the vertical element and think it will work well in a glove.

Hm, best make a swatch first. See you later,

Laura Kate

Posted in colorwork, knitting

Another F.O. Friday

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.

Posted in colorwork, painting, quilting

Follow up on Fence Questionaire

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.

The Winner!

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.

Happy making to all and to all a good day.

Posted in colorwork, quilting

Thread Art Baby Portrait F.O.

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

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.

Posted in colorwork, hand embroidery

Application of Painted Thread

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.

The moon and the stars.
Falling Star
Jet airplane and flock of birds over downtown
Fireworks over the Mississippi river on July 4th.

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.

Posted in colorwork, painting, quilting

Painting Thread

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.

Airplane is in natural thread. Moon is stitched with painted thread.

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.