Saturday, December 31, 2011

Nice threads!

Yes, I found a lot of thread to try for hand quilting, and embellishment.  I found silk perle in both #8 and #12, in solid colours, but I'm really more interested in working with variegated colours.  So, I had to go with cotton perle, and I found a lot of it in quite a variety of colour families--not that I could afford to buy them all!!  But, I could afford to buy enough that I was eligible for a free gift--a very nice and well-sized metal needlecase.  While the silk is a dream to work with, the final result is a very "soft in the hand" piece of work.  The cotton will produce a sturdier piece.  Of course, my other option is to try to dye the silk into the variegated colours I want.
On Monday, my Ravenesque fibre art group is coming for the day, and as hostess, it won't be a good day for getting any serious work done.  No matter how much I want to play with my threads, I'll have to execise some self control until later in the week.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Oh my gosh!

I didn't realize how long it had been since I posted.  Not that I've been that busy.  Currently I'm working on the second piece of my Milky Way series. A friend sent me a phenomenal photo of the Milky Way taken in Africa where ambient light is at a minimum, and it gave me pause to reconsider parts of the design.  But the end result is whole big bunch of fairly intense hand beading.  I have been spending as much time working on it as my hands will allow, but also making sure that I do one line of stitching per day on my next little 12" by 12".  This one is mainly play, as I don't expect that it will end up as a marketable piece, but the cloours really appeal to me.  Unfortunately, I'm using a Sulky Blendable to hand quilt it, and while this is appropriate to the design, it's blending in so well that photos are useless.

I did find some more of the twisted silk thread, locally, that I used in the textures piece--and it's in colour which is a bonus.  Something to play with over the next little while.  Tomorrow DH is taking me to a needlework shop that is about 2 1/2 hours away, to see if we can find a variegated thread that is firm enough to create contours in hand quilting-- probably something like a #12 perle cotton.  This is more of an excuse to get away than a necessity, as I think the #12 Sulky Blendable may just do the trick nicely.  But tomorrow is also our 46th wedding anniversary, so a trip away together is quite appropriate.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Latest effort

Part of my self development indicated a study of texture.  While a lighter colour is necessary for this type of work, I chose grey rather than the white or beige most people would look at--what can I say, I'm a maverick.  The full piece is 12" by 12".  The fabric is cotton, Duipionni silk and organza.  The ribbons are cotton and polyester.  The entire piece is densely quilted with twisted silk. Unfortunately the silk thread matches the fabric so closely that the quilting is difficult to see in the photo.  (And, yes, those are heart-shaped yo-yo's! lol)  I love working in this size, and format, and have found that my poor hands can handle this much hand quilting and not much more, so I'm able to use that technique, despite not having been able to do it for years.  Between this piece and the Shaded Grapes from a previous  post, I had wondered if I had found something I could put into show stock.  I got quite excited about the idea, and started to plan third piece, but then realized that I was trying to force a design--exactly what I had said I wouldn't do. So, if the designs come--great, and if they don't--so be it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Summing up the year

On the QuiltArt yahoo group today, they are starting to re-visit the concept of designating a single word as your anthem during the year.  In some of today's postings they are looking back over the past year and examining whether the word chosen actually became a by-word for the year, or if another word would have been more appropos.  I had toyed with the concept behind several words, and most of them would have been right for my year.

2011 was a year of re-birth for me.  A year of stepping back and re-examining my life and what I want from it.  Last December/January I wasn't sure where I was headed, or what I wanted my future to be.  Looking back, I can also see that I wasn't emotionally or physically able to visualize my future, and visualization is an important part of future planning.  Physical health was a bigger issue in 2012 than I had thought it would be

I have not participated in a show/sale since November of 2010.  Now I have seen that I didn't miss the shows and sales at all.  I sometimes missed the income, but most of the sales I participated in were on a "break even" basis, with participation being more inteneded to get my name out there--which is not a bad rationale for it. 

So, decision #1  Shows/sales will be limited to one or two per year, and only if I have sufficient stock to participate, without a mad scramble to produce. 

Teaching has not been good for me for several years.  This past year I did some teaching of  more basic quilting methods, to individuals and small groups, more informally than in the past, and I had much more fun.  Most of these chances came as a result of informal, word-of-mouth promotion.  Formal promotion resulted in nothing!

Decision #2  I will no longer engage in active, formal promotion of my willingness to teach, but rather will rely on informal methods.  I will be willing to teach anything anything I feel capable of teaching, including back to basic traditional quilting.

This year there was the opportunity to exhibit more widely than in the past.  Given a reasonable deadline, this was wonderful, and the process resulted in sales.  Gotta get me more of this.

Decision #3  In 2012 to focus more energy and resources toward exhibitions rather than shows/sales.

What went well in 2011?  I firmly believe that I am finishing 2011 a much healthier person.  Many health issues have been moderated.  ( People my age don't get cured of anything!)

Decsion #4  To make every effort to maintain the health gains achieved in 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Today I was about to get started on the next piece in my Milky Way series.  I had been forced ( snicker, snicker) to buy more navy blue fabric, but luckily it was on sale at Fabricland this weekend.  I was surprized at how much more expensive the price of cotton has become, but then remembered that we had been warned to expect about a 40% jump.  Anyway, as I was cutting the fabric, I remembered the problem I had with bearding with the last piece.  I had been going to try using black felt instead of my normal Warm'n'Natural batting, but then thought of trying to use black batting.  Oh Dear, I'll have to go to the LQS--too bad.  Actually driving across town on a Saturday in December, with snow falling makes it less of a pleasure than the trip should be.

Now, I'm fussy about my batting.  I generally stick to the Warm company products, as I've never found anything to match them for the detailed and heavy machine quilting I use.  Fussy enough that I donated an entire bolt of polyester batting to the charity progam of the LQG, when I realized that it would probalby never get used inthis house!  The black batting I found is a Hobbs blend--the same 80/20 blend that I had wanted for the piece.  So far it appears to be behaving exactly as required.  The true test will come when I start the embellishment--which is usually the last step in my work.  Warm Company products do not take well to a lot of hand work--at least not for me.  For those small pieces that are hand quilted or hand embroidered, I use the thinnest polyester batt I can find, sometimes even splitting the batt to make it even thinner.  ( I readily acknowledge that the problem is probably in my arthritic hands, not the quality of the batting.  Old age is a bitch, but Warm products are dense.)  But this all causes problems when I have a larger, machine quilted piece that requires hand embellishment,  as the Milky Way series does.

So a little experimentation is in order.  I'll report my findings.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Shaded Grapes

This is my response to the Fast Friday Fabric challenge #63.  The challenge was to produce something that demonstrated high contrast with the use of colour--no black and white allowed.  I further challenged myself to only use what I had on hand--no special fabric preparation and no purchasing.  To that end, I chose to use my favourite Low Water Immersion (LWI) dyed cotton Damask.  The background is a LWI-dyed muslin ( I think that time I was trying for black and ended up with the lovliest deep smokey blue)  The cotton Damask dyes beautifully, and the fabric ends up with a "glow" that I've never seen with any other fabric.  I think it must be caused by the overshot satin threads of the weave.  I was quite happy with it, until I saw the pictures and realized how much the two light purple grapes stand out.  But that can happen in a real bunch of grapes as well, so it won't be changed.

I had hoped that the natural shading of the fabric would work to shade the grapes,but it wasn't quite enough, so there is a little coloured pencil in there.  This is also my first finished  contribution to my latest 12" by 12" series.