Saturday, February 28, 2009

Leaves- and lots of them!

I started working on the leaves for Autumn Mountains today. After a lot of thought, I made a bunch of freezer paper leaves, ironed them on my fabric, and stitched around the edge. After taking off the freezer paper (saved to make more leaves), I fused Wonder Under to the back, then cut out the leaves. Lots of leaves, and this is just the first bunch!

I had to see how they looked on the quilt, so I started sticking them on with pins. Wow! Amazing what they add!

And a closeup--

I'm going for the effect of leaves piling up around the tree, and falling off the branches. I've got more to cut from this fabric, then I'll make a bunch more from a couple of other fat quarters of my hand-dyes. It is so nice to see the vision I've had in my head come to life!

I've also been trying to finish this tee. The front and back are both screened, and I added some to a sleeve. Still trying to decide if I'll be symmetrical and add some to the other sleeve, or leave it asymmetrical. The sleeves need to be shortened a tad, but it's got the room I like. Can't stand clingy clothes!

I'll be taking this to California when I go the end of March- it will be interesting to see what my old high school friends have to say! Maybe I'll even get the short sleeve one dyed too.

It's getting late, I'm off to read for awhile. More leaf-making tomorrow!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lazy Day

It has been a rather quiet Saturday- it's late afternoon, and I have the house to myself. Shannon is at her clinic, DJ, Lance and the kids have gone to the movies. I'm putting together a simple dinner, spaghetti and meatballs with salad and a freshly baked baguette. The meatballs are cooked, and the jars of sauce waiting to be opened. (No, I do not make spaghetti sauce from scratch!)

I've been screening on the back of the tee I dyed a few weeks ago, it should be ready to wear this week. I got the quilting done on the tree last night- with all the stitching and texture that tree already has, I was surprised at how the quilting further sculpted the surface. I'm still deciding how I'm going to finish off the side of the tree.

And I have started to think about the two challenges our WAQ group came up with, to be done by this fall. One is 5 X 7, mounted on an 8 X 10 painted canvas, using at least some red-violet and/or yellow green, with a theme of magnification. The other is 16 X 24, mine is oriented landscape, using at least some blue and/or orange. The theme is 'passages.'

I have been thinking about that a lot. The word has multiple meanings, which is one of the reasons we all liked it. There are the obvious ones, doorways, physical passages- but I may go with something different. Books have always been such a large part of my life- what about passages of books that have significant meaning for me? I'm still playing with that one in my head, but that's the direction I'm leaning towards now. The other meaning that I gravitated towards is passages of life. I have no doubt I could embellish on that one, since I'm past most of them!

The weather here is just starting to have the feel that spring is getting close. It is light later, and every once in awhile I catch a glimpse of green in a field. The air smells different. I'm finding clumps of Sadie's coat in the carpet, which means she is starting to shed. Maybe it is the ongoing euphoria from the election and inauguration, but I have a sense of hope, despite all the crappy news and the scary economy. So, in the spirit of hope springing eternal, and since I have no interesting photos of work in progress to share, here's a closeup of a tree outside our home. That looks like a bud, right??

And, it's also a success in my ongoing quest to master the manual settings of my camera! I've been trying to learn how to get a closeup image sharp, with a fuzzy background. Open the aperture! Use the macro setting! Maybe by the time I can afford to get a digital SLR, I'll have this all figured out!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Maybe the End is in Sight??

I'd have to look in the calendar books where I track my progress on fiber projects to find out how long ago I started this quilt. I'd bet money it was 2007 at least. But I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

Today I got the facings completely sewn on. The quilt itself is slightly smaller than the tree- an effect I think I am liking. The top branches stick up above the quilt about 1/2", and the roots dip down below the bottom, The entire right edge also extends beyond the edge of the quilt.

I still have to add some quilting lines to the tree, and then the final push, the leaves. I did find Jeans Stitch in brown, so now it is just a matter of finding the energy and time.

Seen up on the design wall, finished edges make a world of difference. And, I can get a better handle on how the quilting will look when it is hung.

This quilt is large enough that I need to move the table in the wet studio to get an unobstructed photo. Not happening tonight!

We are bracing for another snow storm tomorrow, the same storm that has been hammering California. At least it has been warm enough the last couple of weeks that the snow melts off very quicky. No snow on our lawn, and the roads are clear of ice. Let's hope that trend continues!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

It's Quilted!!!!!

Autumn Mountains is quilted- in one day!!! I cannot believe the difference a longarm setup makes. I actually had all but the last pass done in less than four hours, then stopped for our WAQ meeting.

It is not perfect by any means, but I am thrilled. I got the movement I wanted, and at least some of my gaffes will be covered by the leaves I will applique. As for my learning, here they are in a nutshell-
  • Pieced blocks with lots of busy prints and variations in value are a challenge to quilt. I was using monofilament, and in many areas I literally could not see where I had already quilted. Consequently, I had some areas where I overlapped motifs, and others where I had to fill in. The upside- if I can't see it, neither will the viewer!
  • Mark the bottom of where you can quilt. You don't want to end up with definite 'rows' of quilting, and these help plan ahead.
  • Microhandles are a godsend, especially for those of us who aren't used to a longarm. I felt more in control, closer to the needle. (A side point- the HQ 16 is the only long/midarm with control buttons on both the microhandles and the regular handles. So, I could turn it on and off without having to move my hands. Much, much easier!
  • Crawling under the frame lets you get a good view of what you've quilted, and where you might need to fill in. At least it works on a Hinterberg frame!
I have a little bit of quilting to do on the tree, but that will be easy to do on my Juki since it's mostly on one side. I'll be using Jeans Stitch- I want a fat line with matte thread. Then I'll get busy on the leaves- lots of them!

I have been thinking about my edge finish. Two layers of batting (where the tree is will be a challenge- but I think I have an unconventional idea that will work. And, it will let me face the other areas of the quilt, which is my preference since I used up all the border fabric, and I don't want a definite line like a binding would have.

Our WAQ group came up with two challenges we will be working on- one larger piece, 16 X 24, and a smaller one that will be mounted on a canvas. I'll be posting more as I start my research and musings!

And finally, if you've read this far- Happy Valentine's Day! I hope yours is filled with love and laughter!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Art and Tee Shirts

Last weekend I dyed and overdyed a blank tee I got from Dharma. So far, I'm liking the colors I got- I was going for more pastel shades, which is a change for me. Last night I put on the first set of screenprinting on the front, then this morning I did the second. I'm using Tsukineko inks, thickened with Aloe Vera gel. It seems to work very well- a good thing, since I just wasn't feeling like mixing up dyes and sodium alginate.

The screen is one I did on a friend's Thermofax machine, of windows in an old industrial building here in Spanish. The first screen was done with a darker lilac shade, the second overlaps it and was done with a cool gray color. I rather like the effect I got.

Once I get this dried and heat set, then I'm adding another screen- handwriting from my great-grandmother's graduation essay. I love using that one! Then I have to decide if I want to do the same thing on the back.

I can't believe I forgot to blog about a trip I made to the art museum in Springville a couple of weeks ago. In January they had an exhibit of two women, Susan Madden and Joyce Marder. Susan is an art quilter, and Joyce a basket maker. I enjoyed that- the baskets were huge, and all done out of willow. Susan's fabrics pieces really evoke an sense of place here in Utah. But the best part for me was an exhibit of a Utah painter, Rob Colvin. He does landscapes that just knocked my socks off. Not realistic, more abstracted- but still identifiable. The exhibit was called 'Geometry of the Land', and that describes his paintings perfectly. And, it was so applicable to fiber! Take a look, you can find his work here.

I'm now off to the more mundane weekend tasks. If I'm lucky, I'll get the second sunflower sandwiched and ready to quilt.

Friday, February 06, 2009


I spent several hours today at my friend Robyn's home, practicing using her HQ16 midarm. She and Suzanne, another friend, have been kind enough to volunteer their HQ16's for me to quilt Autumn Mountains on. Today, I practiced on 1 1/2 yards of cheap muslin. Next week, I'll be quilting on the real thing. Here's the entire piece- sorry for the lousy lighting.

I was surprised at the difference between the quilting at the top where I started, and how it looked at the bottom, where I ended. Here's the top-

And here's part of the bottom--

After one pass, I figured out (with Robyn's help) that I needed to enlarge the size of my motifs. When you're used to moving the paper(fabric) and not the pencil (machine), you don't generally do large sweeping motions! By the end, I was getting better at nesting my motifs in each other, and not having them in a line. It's not perfect, but I feel confident enough to start the real thing. Since I'm appliqueing leaves on after I quilt, I'm comforted by the thought that the viewer won't be able to see any large unbroken areas of quilting!

I also learned that this involves very different muscles, and my shoulders appreciated it. Once I figured out to stand up straight, it got easier. No stressed or strained shoulder muscles like I get when I free motion on the Juki. It took me about four hours to do this, and I felt more relaxed at the end. I have a ways to go to make all my curves consistently curvy, and getting my lines closer to each other. And, quilting all the way to the edge is HARD!! But, no way I could have done this much quilting on the Juki in four hours.

I'm so grateful to have friends who are so generous with their expertise- and, in this case- their awesome midarms. I'm actually beginning to believe that this quilt will get completed!