Last Wednesday, the husband and I returned from a very long journey. Over 13 days we drove over 3,000 miles, traveling through nine states. The climax of the trip was three days spent in Ohio, assisting my five siblings in sorting the parents’ household good in preparation for distribution and sale. It’s hard to describe the physical and emotional energy exhausted during that effort, so I won’t try. I wish I could show you a lot of great photographs from the trip, but I didn’t manage to get any worth sharing.
Back here in Oklahoma, it took me a few days to settle back into my normal life. The last few were spent working on hand embroidery of the Shell Lake quilt blocks. It was a good choice for my re-entry, because I could do it slowly while listening to podcasts and drinking lots of coffee. I think that I am done, but not sure. To give me some perspective on my work, I have photographed and posted each block. Let me know if you think the woven sections have enough stitches.
On another topic, I have brought home a few UFO projects from my mother’s stash that I promised various people that I would finish. My plan is to post about each one as I work through them. If you’re not a fan of sewing and quilting, don’t jump ship yet. I will be continuing to explore watercolor painting, drawing and knitting in the coming months.
It’s been a while since I shared progress on the Howard Wabi-Sabi quilt. For this Work In Progress post, I’m showing how I hand-quilted a few of the vintage weaves that were used in this object.
After much consideration, I decided that it was OK to sew on (aka deface) someone else’s work. This change of heart came after I was in Madison recently, where I asked my daughter to show me more samples of Margaret Howard’s work.
Oh my. There was so much of it. Huge plastic bins filled to overflowing. Several samples were woven with the same motifs found in the pieces I was using in my quilt. Perhaps each piece was not that precious to the maker. They were woven, perhaps for practice, perhaps for auditioning alternative color choices.
When I picked up my quilt blocks again, it was clear to me that my stitching could accomplish its task of quilting down the batting and backing while also reinforcing the existing weave patterns. To my mind, this is enough to honor the maker.
Today I am showing two blocks with embroidery finished.
Center Block before:
Center Block after
Fire Block before:
Fire Block after:
I’m aware that the differences appear subtle in the photographs. But in person, the embroidery stitches bring some color variation and texture that was lacking.
Thanks to Amanda for adding her embroidery to the work, which jump-started my own efforts.
Earlier this week, a friend of a friend asked me to help him mend the holes in his favorite jeans. He didn’t bring any patches along, so I just used needle and thread to weave across one of the holes as a demonstration. That got our conversation started about the concept of visible mending.
The artist I was thinking about is Celia Pym.
An article and some images of her work can be found here:
The conversation reminded me that I had set aside a pair of jeans of my own that were now holey at the knees.
Perhaps the universe is telling me it’s time to start this project. Despite having an abundance of UFFOs littering my studio, I began working on the jeans.
First of all, I wanted to incorporate patches over the weak-at-the-knees areas. Having been told in the past NOT to throw away fabric scraps, I was able to find some interesting scraps already coated with fusible glue.
It took me less than 30 minutes to fussy-cut some flowers that could cover the holes. I added even more patches just to create a colorful floral field on the denim.
I do intend to embroider over the patches. This will serve to strengthen the patches and unify the design a little bit.
It’ll take me a few evenings to get all the hand stitching done. But first, I wanted to address the torn logo on the back of the jeans.
These are Levis jeans but the leathery label on the waistband is nearly gone. I used a small pair of scissors with a sharp point to cut away the remaining bits and thread.
Next I made a label of my own and stitched it into place.
Yesterday I purchased a variety pack of pearl cotton thread in shades of pink, purple, aqua, blue and yellow. I’m really looking forward to jazzing up these tired old jeans.
Ever since I wove a small tapestry on a hand-made loom, I’ve mused about weaving threads over a water color painting. So today I am playing around with the idea.
I started with this 4 by 6 painting I did last December.
It’s an exercise from Kateri Ewing’s book Watercolor is for Everyone. After drawing two columns of randomly sized rectangles, the artist applies selected colors, reversing the order of application in the second column.
I thought this painting would be a good background for my proposed thread embellishment because of its rectilinear structure. To start, I poked holes at regular intervals along the outside vertical edges. Next I stitched a zigzag pattern across the painting with no. 3 cotton twist thread in a gold color.
Now what, I asked myself. How about creating points along the thread intersections by tying knots? Okay. For this step I chose a dark cool green shade.
To further reinforce the intersections, I painted shapes with a metallic paint.
Not a bad way to spend a quiet afternoon. It was soothing and meditative. It reminded me of those picture stitch cards that I worked as a girl when learning how to sew.
Now I have a brand new perspective on what is possible with paint and thread.