Saturday, January 31, 2009

Winter Blahs

Winter in Utah county is often bleaghhh- not because of the cold, but because of the inversion. Add that to my preference, which would be do be done with winter right after New Year's, and it makes for about two months of feeling blah!!

So I struggle at time to keep a positive attitude as I wait out the season. Being outside is often not an option- pollution gets worse as the inversion sits over us. Even if it's not bad where we are, the sight of the brown gunk sitting over the rest of the county doesn't exactly inspire me to WANT to be outside.

So I got the grocery shopping done as early as I could this morning, and did some cleaning in the studio. Remember the felt I put up on one wall a few months ago? I decided that just having the felt hanging there was not working, so I yanked it down. I bought some smaller pieces of foam insulation at Home Depot, and covered them with felt I'd bought at Joann's half off. With a few pieces of sticky back velcro, they are now up on the wall- and it looks a whole lot better than it did!

That's all my postcards, and the journal quilts I decided were worthy of being displayed.

The triangle piece was a PIF from Ferret in Britain. Above that are my last journal quilt, and a piece I did at a workshop. I had one panel left over, so I put it to the left of my Bernina- another small design wall, easily accessible.

I also rearranged where I store some tools in the dye studio, so that area is more functional too.

Then I got busy and made a sleeve for Tsunami, and decided it needs more of the bigger seed beads.

Earlier this month my surface design group met, and in addition to our speaker, we had a stash exchange. We're doing a 'Hard Times' challenge, and hope to exhibit the results of the challenge at a gallery show in Provo next fall. I picked up a couple of remnants of hand dyed silk noil,

and a half completed piece that the maker had decided she didn't like. I love the colors, so decided it was worth a shot.

I've got it pinned up on my new small design wall, waiting to see what it says to me.

Yesterday when I went out to get the mail, I saw this ice 'sculpture' on top of the utilities box in our front yard. I've no idea how it formed, but I thought it looked cool.

I will be an indoor girl most of this week, the inversion is supposed to strengthen til next weekend. I guess I'm grateful I don't have asthma or another respiratory issue- don't know how folks that do deal with it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

No Visuals Today--

although I have been working on stuff. I've got a lot of beads on Tsunami, maybe 75% of what I want to do. No color, just clear beads in a couple of sizes to play with the light when the quilt is hung. I am liking the effect.

And, the sweater is almost done- I'll be sewing on the buttons tonight, and that's it. A good learning sweater- next time I will snug it in at the sides in addition to the four darts I did in the front and back. I already have the yarn for the next project.

It was an eventful week in many ways. I did come home for a couple of hours to watch Obama's swearing in and speech. I have been pleased with the vast majority of steps he's taken in his first week, and can't believe the difference in my attitude. No more snarls and swearing when the president is on TV or even mentioned. I will be praying for his safety, well-being, and wisdom, as well as the safety of his family. We so much need for him to succeed!!!

My surface design group met last Wednesday, and I took a bunch of stuff (including the dryer sheets) for our exchange table. I was very happy to see almost all of it taken. I came home with a smallish piece of hand dyed silk noil, and a half finished piece that the owner decided she didn't like. I did- especially the colors. I'll be putting both up on the design wall to let them talk to me for awhile. We're having another show at the Covey Center here in Provo, and want to have at least part of the show be the works created from this 'green' challenge. I think it will be fun!

And, we are back to winter here. Last week was unseasonably warm- more like March, except we also had the dreaded inversion. (Translation- it's no different that the southern California smog I grew up with, only in winter!) This weekend has bee rainy, then today it started turning over to snow. So our front yard, which had all the snow melted off, is white once again. And it's not the famed dry Utah powder, it is heavy, wet snow. Bleaghhh! The storminess is supposed to continue at least through tomorrow, then stay colder. Oh well, at least the storms blow the smog away.

Don't know how much creative stuff I will be doing this week. I have to get serious about getting taxes done. Since I am not that organized, it is a bit of a feat. Hope your week is more fun than that!

Monday, January 19, 2009

I Think I'm Human Again

The worst of the cold seems to be past me- I've not taken any OTC medicine today, and can actually breathe. And, I felt good enough to leave the house for the first time since last Wednesday. Had to hit Costco and Sunflower market, the kitchen was getting a bit bare.

I have done some playing today. I first read about painting dryer sheets on Katherine Sands' blog. The idea intrigued me, so I started saving them, and even got the rest of the family trained to save them too. I now have a rather large plastic bag stuffed full of the things. This morning I pulled out my Setacolor paints, and put enough of the sheets in a bowl to sort of fill it up. Then I just started pouring paint on them, and scrunching them around to get the paint all over them. Here's the first batch, lovely lime green. Can you tell I'm ready for spring?

I hung the first two batches on my Ikea dryer, then ran out of clothespins. Here's the first and second batchs- lime green and yellow-red.

After that I did a red/blue/purple batch,

then a blue/green batch, and a yellow/purple.

And I've only used up about half my stash of the sheets!

i have no intention of using all of these myself. The Surface Design group I belong to is having a 'Green Challenge', with all of us to create works using only the materials we already have. As a kickoff, we're all bringing fabric/thread/whatever to our meeting Wednesday night that we don't want. It will all get piled up on a table, and we can pick what we want to take home. The work created in this challenge will be in a gallery show next October in Provo. I think it could be interesting--

I keep putting off sewing the beads on Blue Tsunami. My thumbs are really bothering me, probably all the knitting this weekend didn't help. We'll see what the orthopedist says on Wednesday morning. But geeze, I had to do SOMETHING with my hands, just sitting and watching TV drives me crazy. Even the inauguration stuff, as interesting and inspiring as I've found it. I expect tomorrow to be a total high!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

It finally got me-

The crud that has been going around, I mean. I started feeling like I was getting a cold Wednesday- by 4 pm, I left work. Thursday and Friday I spent mostly in bed. Yesterday I made it to the couch downstairs, but all I've done is knit and watch the inauguration coverage. I've loved every minute of it, and am rather peeved that I'll have to figure out a way to leave work long enough to see him take the oath and speak on Tuesday. No way I'm missing that. I can live without the parade, the balls will be on that night, but I won't miss seeing his speech live.

The other good thing that has come from being sick is the knitting. I've got a sweater about done! I completely ripped out a vest I'd done over a year ago and wasn't happy with the result. This time, I decided to do a raglan short sleeve sweater knit from the top down. I've decided it's long enough, I'm ready to start the ribbing. Then all I have left to do is pick up the neckband stitches, and do six rows of that.

Hopefully I can get this done before my appointment with the orthopedist Wednesday, for my elbow and thumbs. Both have been bothering me, although I started taking Motrin and that helped. But if I'm going to be told to give up my repetitive motion activities for awhile, I want this done first.

Hope you are keeping warm- it's winter here, but at least we aren't in the deep freeze like Chicago and the rest of the midwest. I don't miss that weather at all!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I Made It!!

I made it through the workweek after time off, and I have the Sunflower piece almost finished- just a sleeve and label left. I will still be gifting it, but have changed my mind about the recipient. An even more perfect one has come to my attention.

My small group, WAQ, met on Friday. I took the Sunflower, Blue Tsunami, and Autumn Mountains for critique. Blue Tsunami got good reviews, with only the suggestion that some beads might be a nice addition. Not too many, just some. Since I had been thinking that myself, I'll be going ahead with it. They said Sunflower needed beads, too- and it was like a knock upside the head- of course! I'd already added the metallic paint over the background quilting, and loved the effect. I spent Friday and Saturday night beading, and this morning hand sewing the back of the binding. I am very pleased with the result, and am even more pleased with the learning that came from doing this piece. I got experience dye painting with soy wax on a wholecloth design and applying paint after quilting. With that, I can cheerfully let Sunflower go to a new home. I'll do similar processes on her sister, and hopefully will see improvement in my skill with the techniques. Here she is finished-

And a detail shot-

I'm going to hit Home Depot in hopes of finding a paint roller that is only about an inch wide. And, I will figure out a way to mask the flower on the second piece when I paint. That should help alleviate the problem I had with too much paint in some areas, since I was trying to keep it off the flower. As for the beading,
I used big seed beads, size 6 I think. And, there was a lot of variation on the size in the package- which I think adds to the effect.

We had an interesting discussion about quilting on Autumn Mountains. I was thrilled when Robyn volunteered to let me quilt it on her frame with her HQ16. It will be easier than wrangling a piece that size under my Juki, that is for sure! I will just need to practice in the morning before we load the quilt, and Suzanne volunteered to come over and make sure we got off to a good start. I have played with the HQ16, but not for extended lengths of time. I won't be doing it until late in January or February, since Robyn is leaving on a cruise. So I have time to practice with paper and pencil. I'm both nervous and excited, it would be great to get it quilted in one day!

Yesterday was a red letter day for Shannon- she turned 21. We did some clothes shopping in the morning, then she got some German beer to enjoy with the German meal she is making for us tonight. It just does not feel like it has been that many years since I held her for the first time as a newborn. Where do the years go?????

We did see Doubt last weekend, I would highly recommend it. I love Meryl Streep, and the supporting cast was excellent. Not a light hearted movie, but one to make you think.

I think I will spend this afternoon cleaning up in the studio, trying to figure out what I'll work on next. Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

End of Vacation

Sigh- last day before it's back to the salt mines. Oh well, WAQ is meeting this Friday, so I have that to look forward to.

I got Autumn Mountains sandwiched yesterday. I ended up cutting out all the stabilizer I'd put behind the top, except behind the tree. It did seem to help with the puffiness problem I'd noticed in some areas of the quilt, especially between tree branches. Now to do more sketches of the quilting pattern before I actually stitch. As usual, I'm paranoid about ruining all my hard work with a shabby quilting job.

Just as a warm up, I finished quilting one of the batik sunflowers I did last summer. Now, I'm planning to add some metallic bronze paint, as the Kemshall's demonstrated in their book, The Painted Quilt. I think I will gift this piece, and have the perfect person in mind. Here's a detail of the quilting--

I also did an additional layer on two more silk scarves, using Jane Dunnewold's flour paste resist. It's an interesting process, smells like you are using pancake batter. It took overnight to dry, with a fan on it (and that in our bone-dry Utah climate). Then I crinkled it, and added black Dye-na-Flow. Here's the scarves after the paint application- you have to let this sit at least 24 hours, so the paint can cure.

Here's where my problems began. I soaked the scarves in warm water as directed, to start the removal of the paste. That got a lot out- but not all. I washed it twice, then had to soak again. All told, I think I did five soaks/washes. I think my black paint is less intense as a result, but I still like the effect. The other issue I had was the softness of the scarves. They were stiff as boards! I ran them through one more wash with Milsoft, and that helped some- but they are still stiffer than I would like. Hopefully, wearing them will help. Doesn't this red look great with my purple turtleneck!!

Next time I want to get this effect, I think I will use soy wax- much easier to remove!

I'm off to church, then I think we are taking in a matinee today. "Doubt" or "Benjamin Button" are my top choices. Hope your week is a good one!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy New Year!

Here's hoping it's a more positive year than 2008 was.

I was home alone this morning, and managed to get all the Christmas decorations taken down and packed. I also went through our Christmas storage boxes, threw out a bunch of stuff, and organized what I kept. So all that was left for DJ to do when he got home was put the bins away in the garage. I even dragged that very tall tree outside!

I also went through my closet and picked out a bunch of clothes I haven't worn in a long time and freecycled them. Shannon decided to follow suit- I was surprised at how quickly both sets of clothes were spoken for. Most of them don't fit me anymore, so why did I hang on so long? It felt pretty good to free up space in the closet.

And, at the risk of boring everyone with yet another picture of Blue Tsunami, I finished it on 31 December. Took my photos, and then used my new copy of Gloria Hansen's Digital Essentials to walk me through extracting it from the background and sharpening the image. Hopefully that means this picture of it looks better than any of the previous posts! I think you can click on it to enlarge, that's the only way you can see the hand stitching I added. It's a subtle design element, but I like the bits of texture and line it adds.

I'm wondering how I'm going to do the sleeve so it hangs perpendicular to the floor. I've never made a quilt with such wonky sides before!

I'd highly recommend Gloria's book, it is written specifically for quilters and the kinds of pictures we take of our work. Well worth the money. Now I'm saving up for a digital SLR, I've finally decided I'm outgrowing the point and shoots, even though my relatively old Canon lets me dink with a lot of settings if I choose.

Not much else. DJ is off to see if he can get help with figuring out why our dishwasher is on the fritz. I'm just hoping it isn't going to be one of those cases where fixing it is more expensive than just buying a new one. I hate how manufacturers seem to be making high ticket items to self destruct after only a very few years of use.

Now I'm back to Autumn Mountains, trying to figure out if I need stabilizer under the whole piece or if I can get away with just under the tree. Right now, I'm inclined to to try the latter. I was less than thrilled at how the stabilizer was to work with.