Posted in painting

Thoughts on Starting a New Year

Day Two of 2021: I’ve spent some time pondering how I might use my creative collateral in the new year. While I have no grand plan, I did make one resolution regarding the pursuit of water color painting.

I will keep my painting efforts small, regular and modest. For example, in January I plan to practice painting washes every day, on small canvases of artist quality paper – no bigger than 4 by 5. Today I did an abstraction of the grapevines growing along the Pathfinder trail. Here is a photograph I took last month.

And here is my simplified study:

There are two potential good outcomes of this decision.

1. My watercolor skills will continue to improve.

2. The rest of my time can be spent on making improvisational and art quilts, which have gained my attention this past year.

Of course, I will spend the twilight hours of each day knitting.

To make the plan work, I will need to re-arrange my studio slightly, so that I don’t have to put away the paints every time I want to sew. It can be managed, with a few adjustments and additions. I will set up a small table for painting, near the window. And I will construct a table-top pressing board, so that I can put away the ironing board.

How are your resolutions coming along?

Posted in knitting, painting, quilting

Year 2020 in my Rearview Mirror

My usual practice on New Year’s Day is to clean out my clothes closet, eliminating all those items I no longer wear and taking stock of any needs for replacements. But this year? Staying at home 90% of the time? Who needs new clothes! I fell into a consistent pattern of wearing jeans or stretch pants and cotton knit shirts.

So today, I will ignore my closet and instead look back at the work emerging from my studio. In glancing at my 2020 posts, I realize how much my work has changed since I started this blog in 2019. What comes to the front are the forays into making art quilts and painting with watercolors. But I’ll start with my first love –


While this year was not a high point in creative design, my output was strong. I completed 3 hats, 4 pair of socks, a toddler sweater, a dress, a top down cardigan, a serape and a water bottle holder. My most complex object was the Weaver’s Square vest made for my daughter.

Technically, I did design this garment. But the fair isle pattern on the vest’s back was adapted from one I saw on Knit/Lab’s website. I don’t take credit for that part. The vest turned out pretty great and she loved it. Here are a few photos of some other knits I made this year:

I finished the year with two UFO’s – a pair of men’s socks and a pair of gloves.


Last year I was focused on learning to sketch. But this year, I was determined to start painting. To that end, I joined the local art association and signed up for some on-line classes. Anyone who has tried to paint with watercolor will freely admit that the medium has its own set of challenges. I spent the year more disheartened than encouraged. In July I followed the daily challenge on World Watercolor Month, organized by Charlie O-Shields of Doodlewash. That’s when I started to see some improvement. I began by painting copies of other people’s photographs. Eventually I was able to paint from my own photographs, from life, and from my imagination. Here are a few favorites.


Confession: I learned how to quilt only for the purpose of realizing my fiber ideas. So there are a lot of technical areas of quilting that I choose not to pursue. While my favorite thing to do with fabric is to paint on it, I am willing to piece fabric into a quilt top when my inspiration seems to require it. I use commercially printed fabric as well as hand painted fabric for these pieces. During the past year I learned how to mount small art quilts onto stretched canvas. This allows me to present them as works of art suitable for hanging.

At the beginning of 2021, I find myself with a number of unfinished objects. I also have more ideas than I have energy to pursue.

So perhaps my goal for the new year needs to be a narrowing of ambition. The hardest part is deciding what to leave behind. I love it all.

Posted in knitting, weaving

December Holiday in Review

First of all, I want to say that the Christmas To-Do list posted on the wall was a big hit with family members who visited us this year.

Of the twenty items on the list, all but four were completed – with great enthusiasm, for the most part. We made a few changes: no one was interested in making wreaths, but the fly fishermen among us wanted to tie some flies. So there was that substitution. And since the cars took up the whole driveway, we played sports in the backyard. Many times. The weather was remarkably warm and sunny, hence No Fire in the Fireplace.

I received two fibery gifts. The first was a pair of sock yarns, originating in Wisconsin.

I have worked with Ewetopia sock yarn once before and found it very pleasant – it is round, tightly twisted and produces a sturdy fabric. The swatch of the dark plum gave a deep tonal, slightly shaded fabric. The yellow green color, named Caterpillar, gave a stripey fabric characterized by short repeats.

My second gift was a handful of woven linen swatches, made decades ago by my son in law’s grandmother.

After studying them for a while, I was able to work out which direction were warps and which were wefts. Some of these brocades must have been devilishly difficult to construct. I want to preserve them, but I also want to use them in some way. At the moment, I am considering working the swatches into a stretched canvas piece.

It was a busy and tiring week at chez LauraKate. While I intend to write about my body of work made in 2020, that discourse must wait for tomorrow. Today will be dedicated to tidying the craft room, folding the laundry and roasting a chicken.

Posted in painting

What’s up in the Art Room? (December) — In The Art Room

Meet Jenell. She is an inspired art teacher who is now teaching her students virtually. Perhaps some of your young artists will give these projects a try. – Laura Kate.

Check out some of our current projects happening in the art room and how they’re made! Though there’s not been as many in person classes this month, there’s still a lot going on! Check out some of the happenings below! Virtual Paint Alongs! Although we haven’t been able to do any in person paint nights…

What’s up in the Art Room? (December) — In The Art Room
Posted in knitting

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

It seems that I located the biggest Post-It note in the world on which to write this to-do list. Please notice the first word for each item on the list. My English teacher would describe these as verbs. Some call them action words. The emphasis is on action – All are things that require active engagement by the doers. I am expecting at least four of those folks to help me check off the items on this list.

I haven’t blogged this past week because I’ve been very busy with Christmas preparations. That includes Christmas knitting. I finished up the arm warmers for daughter – no picture here, I don’t want to spoil the surprise. The half-finished sock you see is intended for my son-in-law. Hey, I’ve got at least four more days to finish this one and knit another. It’s still possible to finish them by Christmas morning.

Here’s my wish for you at holiday time: May you enjoy celebrating with loved ones, or at least in proximity to loved ones. And may your celebrations bring peace and love to warm your heart.

Posted in painting

Final Images – Watercolor 21 Day Practice

Today I painted the last of the twenty-one exercises in Kateri Ewing’s book “Watercolor is for Everyone.” The proposition was to paint for at least 15 minutes everyday without a reference photo. The goal was to experience painting as a process and to have no expectations about the final results.

Here are some of my paintings. I worked on 4 x 6 pieces of watercolor paper using a natural fiber Sumi brush, a small round synthetic brush and a pencil. The pigments were an assortment of artist grade water colors and some metallic paints.

What I learned:

  • Working on a small piece of paper helped me let go of expectations on my results. I could fill the space with some very basic shapes and colors easily within 15 minutes.
  • Allowing the pigments to flow together taught me to be more free in my brush strokes.
  • Pausing to watch what happens as the paint settled and dried slowed down my brain and kept my body still. I learned what to expect from the different types of pigments – earthy, staining, and metallic – by watching how they reacted together.
  • Simplicity is more satisfying than complexity.

I’m a little bit sad that the lessons are finished. From now on, it will be up to me to think of new daily exercises.

To learn more about this practice, visit Kateri Ewing’s site.

Home | Kateri Ewing

Posted in quilting

Yesterday’s Work

In this post, I am continuing work on the Animal Friends quilt project. Yesterday afternoon was occupied with sewing together many strips that I have cut. They were sewn into two groups:

Three Across
Four Across

I also made another block. This one features a cat sitting in the hayloft of a barn.

For the weekend, I will continue making blocks by grabbing an animal square and a strip set randomly, then doing my best to make blocks that amuse me.

I think this will be a good activity for what may be a cold and (possibly) snowy weekend.

Posted in quilting

Whimsical Wednesday

Lately, I have been a little too serious about my fiber and art pursuits. This realization came to me after reading the following book by Rayna Gillman.

She has been quilting and writing about quilting in the improv style for more than twenty years. I am enamored with the quilt on the cover of this book. And it reminded me about an idea I had some time ago for a playful, dare I say it, Whimsical quilt using the fabric pictured at the top of this post.

First, a little story about how I came to acquire the dog and cat print. Two years ago I was teaching fiber arts to a group of homeschooled kids. For our lesson using fabric paint, I purchased this and a few other black on white prints that were suitable for over-painting. When the students were asked to choose a fabric, no one selected this one. I was mystified. Don’t all little children love cats and dogs?

Fast forward to this year. During a fabric rummaging session, I came across the print and thought about using dogs and cats as the center patch of a log-cabin block.

How cute would this be looking out of a child’s quilt?

I decided to pair it with this print, giving me the project’s color scheme.

So last week I got busy cutting strips of many colors, stripes, prints, dots, etcetera. The more I cut, the happier I felt.

I followed Rayna Gillman’s general suggestions for sewing the strips into sets.

…….and then cutting them up and sewing them to background fabric. After a few hours of stitching, cutting and stitching some more, I had my prototype block.

A little dog in his house under a peaked roof.

The working title for this project is “Dog House, Cat Barn, Animal Friends.” In addition to dog house blocks, I intend to make a block with a cat in a barn. Some of my blocks may have both animals in the centers. Who knows how far I can push this idea?

This may be the start of a jolly, fun, playful and whimsically fibery love affair.

Posted in painting

Two more water color exercises.

These are fifteen minute improvisational watercolor sketches that I completed this week. I am following the daily practice book “Watercolor is for Everyone,” by Kateri Ewing.


Draw a curved line with a pencil. Using three different colors of your choice, paint each side of the feather with quick, light strokes. When the painting is dry, use a pencil to lightly draw lines along the paint strokes and also on the feather shaft.

THREE COLOR LANDSCAPES. Using three colors of your choice, make a quick landscape from your imagination.

Landscape with meadow
Landscape with Grasses

Colors for both landscapes: Winsor Yellow, Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine Blue. In addition to my Sumi brush, I used a no. 2 round and a rigger brush.

Here is a link to Kateri Ewing’s website.

Portfolio | Kateri Ewing

Posted in quilting

Jackie’s Pandemic Quilt

While visiting my mom last week, she showed me this quilt, just come back from the long arm shop. She called it her Pandemic Quilt. Apparently, in order to earn that name, a quilt must be made entirely with materials you already have in your stash.

Close up of nine blocks, including Spring and Summer.

She told me that the inspiration for this improv, scrappy quilt came when she was experimenting with embroidery patterns available on her new, very fancy, baby lock machine. Take a look at the flower in the upper left corner block, above. After working this center she cut it into the shape of a pentagon. This allows for the crazy log-cabin piecing to take place. After a little experimenting, she embroidered the block centers first, made her cuts and then did the piecing. The centers include the words “Spring” and “Summer.”

The white sashing and black cornerstones give the quilt a fresh modern feel.

Good work, Mom. I love to see you get creative.

Addendum: Jackie says,

” I think this quilt is a good example of combining techniques.  The embroidery is strictly modern and surrounded by an old technique of crazy patch piecing.  A purist would hand quilt this but my old arthritic hands no longer hand quilt so it was finished on a long arm machine which is also a modern invention.  “