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 Bluprint.com 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 Bluprint.com 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.

https://www.shirleypaden.com/about

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.

http://www.knittersreview.com/

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.

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/print-o-the-wave-stole

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.

https://www.nelkindesigns.com/

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 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 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.

Posted in quilting

Slightly Stuck

It’s been a while since I wrote about the state of “stuckness” For me, this means that the project is not flowing very well. Over the last few days, I have been toying with a technique called “Stitch and Flip”. I learned it from a BluPrint.com class on how to piece improvisationally. The instructor is Jacquie Gering.

https://shop.mybluprint.com/quilting/classes/improvisational-piecing-modern-design/35410

Basically, you sew a piece of contrasting fabric across the corner of a square, then flip the piece over to cover the corner. You can cover one, two, three or all four corners of the square. I was struck by how much the finished squares resembled little fish. This drove my desire to give it a try. Here is a sketch of what I envision:

And here are the fabrics I have chosen. The batik is the front half of the fish sewn over corners of two squares. On two more squares I am sewing triangles to represent the belly and tail of the fish.

Then the whole block is assembled. A four by one inch rectangle finishes the block.

I had hoped to easily make a several “schools” of these little fishes, with five or six in each block, ultimately creating an underwater scene on a lap quilt. Cute, Fun – right? But somehow I kept screwing up the assembling. Much ripping, muttering and re-sewing ensued. My completed blocks are not lining up right! I can’t seem to square them properly! In addition, I don’t have enough background fabric to proceed! And of course, the fabric I need is in Hobby Lobby, which is closed indefinitely!!!

So this project is in limbo. I did sketch a few sea turtles, which might get included in this project, if I can figure out how to get them there.

So sadly, I will set the fish aside while I ruminate on the process. It won’t be the first or last time that I got stuck in the middle. Meanwhile my paint order from Dharma Trading has arrived. So I will play with paint until the lightbulb goes off in my brain.

Posted in painting, quilting

Tree Tops and Paper Piecing

A few months ago, I had a phone conversation with my daughter while she was on a walk. As we chatted about sundry things, she said, “I just love trees. I could draw nothing but trees and never get tired of them.” I wholeheartedly agreed. In fact, I have been thinking about making a fiber object based on trees for months. To that end, I have been taking photos of the trees in their winter nakedness.

Finally I have come up with a plan and a design for the trees. And I owe it all to paper piecing with clamshells.

Non-quilters now have no clue about what I am trying to say. My apologies. But the quilters among us will recognize the context of “clamshell” and “paper piecing”. This applique shape is one of the classics. Rather than try to describe it, I direct you to Pinterest, with the instructions to search on “quilt clam shell pattern.”

Here is an example:

Cute, right? But for me, I can hardly look at this quilt WITHOUT thinking Tree Tops.

I decided to try paper piecing with clamshells after viewing a tutorial on BluPrint.com. The instructor uses the applique stitch to sew the clamshell shapes onto a tote bag.

https://shop.mybluprint.com/quilting/classes/giftable-projects-english-paper-piecing/715557

To get started, I searched for an object with a 4 inch diameter, and then drew around it until I had several clamshells.

A roll of masking tape turned out to be the perfect size.

After photo copying this sheet four times on cardstock, I had enough pieces. Each applique will need one of these pieces of paper inserted to form the half-dome shape.

Here are four of them.

Next I made a thumbnail sketch to work out the size, applique placements and design.

Since I used pencil this image is a bit faint. So sorry.

The next step was to paint the sky on white fabric. This will serve as a background and base fabric for my appliques. I used Dye-Na-Flow paint and lots of water.

At this point, I will need to practice painting the trees onto the appliques. But my mojo is flowing well, and I am excited to get this fiber object to its next stage.

Posted in knitting, painting, quilting

Catch-Up Friday

Since I didn’t finish any of my fiber objects this week, I have decided to write a progress report. You see above about ten inches of the Weaver’s Square pattern, which will become a colorful vest for my daughter. This is the back of the garment. The front I have planned will be much more subdued. While working with seven strands of yarn each row has been a challenge, the satisfaction of the work and the excitement of seeing the color emerge has more than compensated for any difficulty. I have chosen to switch out the vertical colors at a rate of two or three for every band of horizontal color. As a result, the pattern has a more vertical effect.

Log Cabin Mini Quilt

Another work in progress is picture above. The quilt sandwich is constructed and some stitch in the ditch took place. At that point, I decided to work some embroidery in the flower squares and add hand quilting to the strips.

Blue block nearly finished.

I also felt that a border was essential to provide balance between the light and the dark sections of the piece. Going further, I plan to hand-paint this border in multiple hues. It will be exciting to see how well that goes, and it will take me more time.

Last week-end I started a tutorial on painting with water color on paper. This class was offered on Bluprint.com. Despite a little trepidation, I am sharing my work today. Keep in mind I am a rank beginner and be kind.

Seascape at daybreak with birds.
Color Block using primary colors, salt, colored pencil and micron pens.
Realistic style chickadee

Such a fun week. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to remind me that this life is real.

Posted in quilting

Quilting Along

I hadn’t planning on ditch-stitching the Arches quilt. But I have been a bit stuck – uncertain about how to proceed and wary of my skills (or lack thereof) to quilt free motion. Hence, I partook of another tutorial. This one, taught by Susan Cleveland on blueprint.com, promised to teach me some alternatives to free motion quilting.

https://shop.mybluprint.com/quilting/classes/creative-quilting-alternatives-to-free-motion/60838

But first, here are a few views of the panel that I have already quilted.

This block pleases me. I was able to free motion quilt around the color waves in the background which imitate the sky and river. Using the walking foot I quilted the arch itself around the perimeter and also along the color breaks. I then stitched two lines up the side, which give a sense of the way the stainless steel panels are attached.

I quilted around the arch in the top two blocks the same way. In the background to the right of the arch, I chose to echo the arch shape. On the left side I stitched free motion in big swirls. These did not turn out well. I guess I will rip it out, but that kinda scares me.

Susan recommended that I stitch in the ditch between the squares. This is said to stabilize the piece. I am having a problem with fabric stretching out of shape. The ditch stitching and the basting of the panel edges should solve this issue. Once this step is done, decorative stitching can be applied. Some techniques I plan to try include top-stitching with big thread and hand embroidering areas of the quilt.

Now I need to decide which thread to use for the top-stitching and which designs to embroider. (sigh.) The completion date for this project is rather uncertain.

Posted in quilting

Back to the Scrap Heap

I’m taking a break from knitting and painting to do a little sewing.  Some may recall my brief panic the day I realized what happens to my studio as a consequence of quilting.

Crazy Out-of-Control Scrap Heap

After spending time perusing other quilt blogs to find out how other quilters deal with this situation, I found part of the solution in the form of quilted buckets.  This lesson comes to us from Christina Cameli and Bluprint.com.

https://shop.mybluprint.com/quilting/classes/free-motion-quilted-gifts/673670

So yesterday I started on my first of three fabric buckets that (I hope) will contain my fabric-waiting-to-be-used.  This project is also an opportunity for me to practice free motion quilting while adding color and style to my studio. Her are my fabric choices for the first bucket.

120619a
Pink for the outside and gray for the lining.

I’m quilting dimensional triangles for this bucket.  Here is the first step done.

120619b
I had to use a chalk pencil to keep my row straight.

The next few hours were spent happily quilting.  Eventually the first basket was finished.

120619c
Some inch-wide grosgrain ribbon I found became the basket handles.

I have to admit that I sewed up the wrong sides of the baskets, so my basket is actually two inches longer than the one in the lesson. This turned out to be fortunate. The revised dimension held lots of fabric and fit nicely into the allotted space on my shelves.

120619d

I used the Kon-Marie method of folding the fabric and filled the bucket with the folded fabric pieces inserted on edge. It was amazing to see how much fabric this little bucket holds.  Each fabric piece remains clearly visible and easy to grab.

So my plan now is to make three more buckets to use in storing 1 yard and fat quarter size pieces, and to make some smaller baskets for the various colors of scraps.

I highly recommend Christina Cameli’s class. She is delightful instructor.  Each of her projects can be made in an afternoon and would make wonderful gifts.

Posted in quilting

Practical Fiber Fun

To those of you who are still following my blog, thank you! November has arrived and I am back on track with fiber and a plan to make some holiday gifts. This is the first year that I have had plenty of time. It’s gratifying to apply some of the skills I have developed since beginning Daily Fiber! Today I am going to share with you a sweet gift for all the creative types on your giving list. I learned to make this little journal cover in a class at Bluprint.com taught by Christina Cameli. Her craft is quilting, and she excels at working her stitch magic in free motion.

Materials are cheap and readily available: fabric, quilt batting, some foldover elastic and a paper bound journal that you can get at craft, big box, or office supply stores.

Here are the strips I will be using today:

After cutting out all the pieces, the first step is to stitch together enough strips to cover the journal. In this case, I needed a piece that was 9 1/4 in. tall by 13 in. wide. Make it a little bigger than required. Then put together a quilt sandwich with batting and backing (muslin will do.) Using the free-motion technique you like (or one you want to practice) quilt away! I chose to use my walking foot this time.

Pick a lining fabric to go with your theme. It will need to be about eight inches wider than the cover and the same height.

Here’s the lining and journal insert I chose.

Cut to dimension and sew the lining to the cover, right sides together, per the class instructions. The wrap over elastic will be sewn to the back panel with right side down. Trim the corners, turn the piece right side out and press. After you checked that the journal fits inside, top stitch the cover very, very close to the edge. (Be careful to keep the elastic free of top stitching, or it will be too tight.) You’re done.

And here is my finished gift.

Really fun. I’ll be making more of these , and plan to try out some interesting free-motion designs.

Here is Christina’s class. https://shop.mybluprint.com/quilting/classes/free-motion-quilted-gifts/673670

The class also provides instructions for a small basket and zip pouch. Happy quilting!

Posted in quilting

Fun with Free Motion Quilting

Yesterday my Bernina and I spent some quality time together. I used my Autumnal Equinox square to practice free-motion quilting techniques.

One of the things that gave me more confidence is the discovery of the 1/2 speed button on the Bernina. So far, I have mastered wiggles, loops, lazy eights, dot-to-dot and circles. I still can’t do meander.

I had fun drawing with thread on my reverse applique picture. Oh, also a few birds and a squirrel were added by hand embroidery.

Many thanks to Christina Cameli for her class on bluprint.com. https://shop.mybluprint.com/quilting/classes/free-motion-quilting-essentials/40670

Posted in hand embroidery, quilting

Mojo Mini Quilt no 2

Yesterday, during my daily browse of WordPress blogs, I came across Cindy Anderson’s post announcing her one-woman quilt show featuring her art quilts. These are exquisite little works – no wonder she was invited to display them. After viewing her blog I became energized to make another mojo mini in the same style as the one I made last month. But the inspiration for this quilt actually originated in last Wednesday’s yoga session.

The instructor ran a playlist of music that started with a mantra. After five minutes, those words lodged in my brain and wouldn’t let go. Arriving home later, I quickly wrote down the mantra as a potential inspiration for a fiber object.

So yesterday, when the energy took hold, I reached for the mantra, grabbed scraps of fabric with colors like those in my mind’s eye during yoga practice, and scribbled a quick sketch of interlocking arches.

The structure of this mini will be built up with raw edge appliques and it will also rest on a gray background. But to make things more interesting for me, I decided to start with a paper pieced object.

Okay, I’ve never done paper piecing before. But I’ve watched it! Thankfully, I only made two or three mistakes as I cut and sewed this little section. I had to rip out AND also re-cut a scrap that I had trimmed incorrectly. Here is the finished applique.

After mulling over the top half of the design, I sewed an arch from thin strips of fabric. Here is it.

And that is essentially the design of this mini quilt. After glue basting and stitching down the two appliques, I wrote the mantra on the white arch.

…..machine quilted the strips and hand embroidered the background.

I used a couple of my painted fabrics. The red-orange planet is from a printed fabric.

It was very satisfying to make this mini. Thank you to Cindy Anderson for motivating me to get started. You can see Cindy’s art quilts here. https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/2331528/posts/2396379576