Posted in knitting

Farewell to Craftsy

Two years ago, NBC Universal purchased Craftsy, the on-line service offering classes in all sorts of arts and crafts disciplines. It re-branded the site as and continued to make Craftsy classes available on a subscription basis. I resisted buying the subscription for a while. But eventually I did, and was very glad to have it. About a week ago, I, along with other subscribers, was notified that would be closing its doors and winding down business. This is quite a blow for me. Over the past year I have taken dozens of classes. While working in my studio, Craftsy has been my daily companion. So many talented instructors have shared their valuable knowledge, allowing me to master skills as I need them and when I need them.

Today I want to pay tribute to the Craftsy knitting instructors. Knitting was the first craft that grabbed my attention nearly twelve years ago. I knew from the start that I wanted to be the kind of knitter who designed her own patterns. And it was by watching Craftsy classes that I gained the necessary knowledge and skills to reach this level.

Let me introduce you to four women who helped me get here.

Shirley Paden

It’s just my way to start at the complex and work my way back to the simple. Shirley Paden is a NYC based knitwear designer whose work has appeared in Vogue. I took her class “Handknit Garment Design” during my first year as a knitter. Her careful, thorough and detailed design process dazzled me at first. This class was not for the casual viewer. Eventually I mastered her technique and was freed from the tyranny of purchasing patterns every time I wanted to knit something new.

Clara Parkes

Getting to know your materials is a crucial step for artists and crafters. Clara is the guru of yarn. Her class walked me through the many characteristics of both protein and plant fibers, and what to expect from the resulting yarns. I learned about staple, crimp and ply. This knowledge is so important when purchasing yarn. And when you live in the middle of the country, forty miles from the nearest yarn shop, on-line shopping is a necessary evil. I avoided many poor choices because of what I learned from Clara.

Eunny Jang

No knitter can avoid lace stitches forever. Well, she can, but if a knitter wants to master the craft, lace is part of the story. This lady gave me the information I needed to succeed with lace patterns. Okay – here is the biggest tip Eunny taught me about knitting lace: Never, ever attempt to knit a lace pattern that has a repeat longer the four stitches and four rows from written-out instructions. ALWAYS USE A CHART. There were several more important bits in Eunny’s class. But the chart was the break-through moment for me. After taking this class I proceeded to chart out all of the lace stitches that I wanted to try.

Laura Nelkins

Now that you know how to knit lace, what are you going to do with it? Laura is the one who gave me the key to making amazing lace shawls. In addition to offering four different patterns, she also taught me how to produce many different styles and shapes of shawls. By using Laura’s shawl shapes and any charted out lace stitch, I can design my own shawl patterns with ease.

I hope you enjoyed meeting these instructors. The links I embedded to their websites, (when they were available), will allow you to learn more about them without relying on the now-defunct Craftsy platform.

Posted in hand embroidery, painting, quilting

Return to Lake Montgomery

It’s been a while since I shared the turtle in the pond fiber object. As a reminder, it was inspired by a photo taken by Bill on a recent camping trip at Lake Montgomery.

I loved the light, the colors and the texture of this image. I knew right away that I want to create my own version in fabric.

Here is a recap of how I processed this inspiration. First of all, I used fabric paint and the Shibori technique to render the background on cotton fabric.

The piece is about 15 by 20 inches.

After the paint dried, I added another layer to render some shadows. Next I painted the two halves of the turtle onto white fabric…….

……………..… and appliqued them to the background using fusable interfacing.

This is how things stood while I pondered what other elements would enhance the image.

I decided on a few damselflies. More images by Bill were consulted. I picked three beauties, hand embroidered the bodies with floss and machine stitched the wings.

You can see the water plants I added in the foreground using applique and paint.

I sewed on a black border and then paused. This week I finally got around to quilting. My intent was to make the stitch lines look like pond ripples.

How did I do? Are they watery enough?

It took a lot of pondering and a dose of courage to add the turtle’s reflection. The only real option was to hand paint it using opaque Setacolor. So I did.

And here is the finished project.

Springtime at Lake Montgomery
Detail of reflection

This fiber object is now a wonderful reminder of a very special camping trip.

Posted in sewing

Stash-busting: Open Wide Zip Pouch

Okay, so I’m making this zip pouch because Chris at Chrisknits can’t stop making them! They are just so darn quick and useful. You can check out her blog here:

Do I have what I need? Let’s see. The project requires about 1/4 yard of fabric each for the outer shell and lining as well as a zipper. This one is about ten inches long.

I also required the better part of a cup of coffee to get started.

The gold cotton damask on the left is left over from a bedspread I made about 15 years ago. This scrap has been used in an experiment with Dye-Na-Flow fabric paint. I applied the paint to the back side of the fabric, to see if the color would seep through the woven vines but not through the shiny gold parts. It sort of did that. Now I have a use for it.

I also have this scrap, printed with shiny gold dillweed stems. I’ll use it for the bottom section of the bag.

Instructions for this project come courtesy of Anna Graham, at Noodle-head. com. You can get the details here:

open wide zippered pouch: DIY tutorial

My first attempt took about an hour or so to complete, with only one rip-it-out moment.

This is very girly looking, with the pairing of flowery and metallic prints.

Here’s a peek at the inside. It does indeed open wide.

This will be a nice item for gift-giving. I think I will make the next one with a wrist strap.

Posted in quilting

Thread Art Mounted on Canvas

Here’s the Thread Art Baby with border and binding complete, mounted on an 18 by 18 artist canvas. It turns out that the finished dimension was Not a perfect 18 by 18 square. The damask napkin alone was shorter by one inch than it was wide. I chose not to square up the piece. So I had to fill in some color on the canvas.

I’m still happy with this one, and glad that it is now on my studio wall.

Posted in painting

Open for Business

We are at Phase Two of pandemic recovery here in OK. That means our governor has allowed non-essential retail stores to re-open. I celebrated by visiting the local craft store three times so far to re-stock on some things and to buy new supplies for mounting my FOs.

I am following Cindy Anderson’s advice for attaching fabric works to stretched artists canvases.

On the advice of blogger Melody Johnson…..

…….I have acquired this little item.

Today I will be mounting my Just Trees piece. For this one, I want to paint the canvas around and on the edges. This requires me to work with acrylic paint. I chose four colors of thin craft paint that has been in my stash for years. Here is my finished canvas, showing a wet-on-wet technique.

The colors will blend easily with the purple border on my fiber object.

I took at break for lunch while the paint dried. Then I attached the Velcro tape and waited for 15 minutes, per the package instructions.

Hook side of Velcrolook closely at upper edge of corner.

Lastly, I attached the quilt, pressing the two sides of Velcro together. It worked like a charm.

Just Trees – Now show ready

View of the quilt from the right edge, showing paint:

It is very satisfying to get my work up on the wall. I had a lot of fun today, playing in paint, and I look forward to getting all of my finished art quilts show-ready.

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 quilting

Days of Fine Dining – Damask

How many of you remember a time when fine dining took place on a table set something like this? Okay, don’t answer that. I’d like us all to maintain our youthful appearances. I do remember that time – perhaps 30 or so years ago. Back then I went to the extent of buying crystal glassware. But the silverplate and the damask linens were given to me by the generation ahead of me. Every once in a while I get out the silver. The pale pink damask napkins you see in the photo were a gift from my mother-in-law. I’ve never found a use for them that fits my current lifestyle. They have been in the back of the linen closet, unused, for almost twenty years.

But that ended this week, thanks to Lola Jenkins and Thread Art. While stashing away some other fabric, one of the napkins fell out onto the floor. Timing is everything! It came to me that I could sew a portrait on this pale pink piece of fabric.

The subject I have in mind is my grand-daughter, from this photo taken at four weeks.


I decided to overlay this image onto one of a daylily. How about this one?

In the thread art process, the photographs are manipulated to size, and then the contour lines of the image parts are marked up. Here is the baby photo after marking.

I enlarged the flower until the baby could settle comfortably into the center of it. Oops, the baby is missing a foot. I manipulated one of the daylily petals to cover the place where the foot should be. After more fiddling, I came up with this.

Bill thinks this looks like an Anne Geddes photograph. I don’t care.

Now to transfer the lines to the fabric. This proved a little trickier than I expected. I first tried the chalky transfer paper used in traditional embroidery transfers. The lines were way too faint and uneven. Then I found, in the deep recesses of my sewing cabinet, an Aunt Martha’s transfer pencil. Using this tool, you mark up the back side of the image, lay the marked side against the fabric and press with a hot iron.

You get bright pink marks that ARE PERMANENT. But I am living by Lola’s slogan today – and Going For It! I will be covering all the pink lines with black thread.

For the best results, the quilt sandwich should include interfacing fused to the quilt top. I did that and then I cut the batting and backing, pin basted and started quilting.

Here she is at close of business yesterday ……………………

…………….And here is the image with all the contour lines stitched.

So far, making this fiber object has been challenging and fun! I’m so happy to have found a use for the damask napkins.

The next steps are to quilt the background and then add color to the subject. Lola Jenkins uses colored pencil. I will start with that medium, but I may experiment also with some fabric markers. After all, it’s time to go for it.

Posted in hand embroidery, quilting

Sunday Walk, Sunday Work

Yesterday was cool, but sunny. We went walking on our favorite trail, the Pathfinder. On sections of the path which are not shaded by trees, there were wide swaths of blooming flowers, predominantly white clover. Clover is not a native plant here, but still highly valued by the local denizens of the air – bees, butterflies and dragonflies. Bill got some great photos of these fliers with his high-tech telephoto lens. I confined my efforts at photography to things that hold still – especially the flowers. I also snapped photos of the pond, focusing on the willow branches which overhang the water. My goal is to incorporate additional elements into my turtle fiber object.

Upon returning home, I set to work. I have been fussing for the past three days over how to add pond insects to the turtle FO. I first tried making appliques on a scrap of fabric with the intention of fusing them to the background. That technique didn’t seem to work well. It didn’t give me the transparency I wanted for the wings and it didn’t give a life-like look.

But then I stumbled upon Lola Jenkins, a self-taught fiber artist who specializes in thread painting.

This bold, fearless quilter takes a black sharpie marker to her quilt, creating permanent stitch lines. She then stitches over these lines with black thread. In her Craftsy class, she likes to say, “If you are like me, go for it!”

So I did. Not with a marker, but a pencil. I drew the insects, then free motion quilted all of the pencil lines. Here are the inspiration photos (taken by Bill) and the resulting free motion quilted images.

I used embroidery floss to fill in the bodies

Now my lovely turtle has a few companions. I’m happy with today’s additions and feel more confident about starting the next step – background quilting.

Posted in painting, quilting

Update on Turtle Fiber Object

The past five days have found me in a creative slump. Having got my turtle idea started, I am mulling ideas and fiddling with techniques for the next steps. As a reminder, here is my inspiration photograph.

There are two tricky parts for me: 1. How to portray the reflections, and what other elements should be included.

I did get the subject-turtle painted onto to white fabric, in two pieces.

I also added more wash to the background. My goal was to achieve some depth of color and depict some of the swirls and waves in the pond. That didn’t happen but I did achieve some nice shadows. Next I fused the turtle in place with Wonder-Under.

After practicing on scraps, I decided that I have enough skill to machine quilt the reflections. The advantage of this technique is that the thread can be very light colored, even shiny, against the dark background.

For additional elements, I may go with pond grasses….

… and damselflies. Maybe a willow branch or two. But I have yet to work out the specific images and techniques.

This morning when I entered the studio, I felt momentary pleasure at seeing my recent work. Maybe it’s a sign that today I will get my mojo back.