Saturday, January 31, 2015

Hexie are done!

Spent most of today doing the hand finishing on the hexie piece ( while watching stupid home reno shows on tv). But, 'tis done!

When it was quilted, it had to be trimmed to be exactly square, as the construction technique won't work otherwise.   I have to credit Linda and Laura Kemshell for this construction technique, as described in an early Quilting Arts Magazine, in an article about Kantha stitching.

In this case I wanted to add a handle, which, if memory serves me, was not part of the original method.  I wanted the handle to fit my hand easily.  It took a bit of thought to decide to use one made of fabric rather than twisted cord, but think I made the right decision.

Next was to fit the pieces together.  Two adjacent corners were brought together, and the folded edge hand stitched closed,

Then the next adjacent corner brought to the first two and that folded edge stitched closed.

Finally the last two edges are stitched together but only part way.  For my stitching I used a #12 perle cotton that closely matched the binding, in colour.  I stitched down the edge one way using an overcast, or slightly slanted stitch on top of the edge and a short straight stitch through the two bound edges, at a right angle. When I reached the corner, I stitched back in a similar manner, resulting in a series of tiny cross stitches holding together the two bound edges.  For the last, partially sewn edges, I started at the open edge, stitched down to where the three corners met, and then back up again.  This gave me the freedom to end off my thread on the inside of the bag.

and here is the finished result.  A free standing knitting or stitchery tote.  I would still very much like to close the opening in some way. and am planning to go through my many button tins to see if I can find a fairly small toggle button, that could be used with a loop stitched from the #12 perle.

Exactly as I planned. It will hang from a wall hook or door handle quite nicely.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Pictures! Pictures!!

I finally got frustrated with waiting for DH's computer to be fixed so that I can add pictures.  We have it back but now have to wait until Feb 9th for the fellow to come out to the house to re-enter all of the programs that we're used to having.  (DH only uses the computer to play games,and claims to be unable to keyboard, but he managed to get his beloved up and running.  For everything else we have to wait.)  This old faithful computer has Photoshop Elements 7 (PSE) that I have fought with for many years.  iIhave taken many classes but have never really conquered the beast, so have never used it for pictures.  But today I downloaded pictures,using the program that came with the computer so many years ago..  Not sure if it will ever happen again. but we'll see.  I'm not sure where I left off with the pictures.  
 Below is the center panel of my charity quilt, which I have now decided is worth finishing as a single art quilt.  The picture shows it in the process of machine quilting.  I want the beautiful dyed fabric to be the focus of the piece, so the quilting has to remain quite subdued.I chose a neutral pale blue thread ( Guttermann 220).  this almost exactly matches the backing, and blends in to the dyed fabric quite nicely.  

This shows the three pieces of dyed fabric I made during my play day with friends Jan 17th, as well as the piece of plain yellow  to be used to finish the little drawstring bag I had planned.  All of this fabric is supposed to 100% cotton, and all the pieces went through the same dye bath.  It sure doesn't look that way.  While seen like this the top two appear to have sufficient variation of colour to work up into a nice checker board pattern, You can see from the second picture that they really didn't.

 Once it was all sewn together the result was dismal, and when I tried to shape it into a bag,it was even worse.  I didn't take pictures of the final result, just chucked it

Now we move onto the hexies.  After I had the piece to sized,and the edges inserted, I wanted to give it a good press. (The back especially really need it)  but I also wanted to make sure the seams were crisp, so I hauled out the spray starch.  I sprayed the starch into a palette, and used a brush to brush the liquid starch onto each seam,and them pressed each with my little Clover iron.  What a waste of time!  I got about 1/4 of the piece done and decided to just spray starch the whole thing and  give it a good press with my big steam iron.  It worked quite nicely. Thank you.

The hexies are now quilted. I started with marking out concentric circles using each corner as the center of my circles.  Yes this means that I marked from each corner, and many of the marks overlapped.  While I marked every 1/2 inch, I soon realized that quilting the lines a full inch apart was much more in balance with the size of the piece.  I will try to get a picture up, as soon as it is trimmed and ready for binding.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

What is a "Crap quota?"

The drawstring bag I tried to make out of the altered fabric was a disaster.  The proportions were all wring,and then I didn't have enough fabric to make any corrections.  Into the bin!!

This made me pause to think about calling things part of my "crap quota".  That particular effort certainly was "crap", but what about the other things I've made recently?  What criteria am I using when I declare something as "crap"?

Certainly the last two pieces I finished, the Pain piece and "Constraint" pleased me.  I didn't feel that either piece held enough general appeal to either exhibit or to offer for sale. but they both had meaning for me, and were made because I wanted to please myself--even if it does mean a couple more pieces hanging around the house to be "got rid of'", when I'm no longer around.  And at that point will I care?

I do know that some artists do not want anything to outlive them, that doesn't represent their best work--and to a certain extent I agree with the philosophy.  But I'm not a high profile artist, and at 70 no longer expect to become one,  Maybe I should spend the rest of my life pleasing myself, and fueling that pleasure with  the supplies that are stockpiled in the basement.  Getting rid of the stash would please my family a lot more than a trunk full of wall hangings that nobody wants.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Finding the Calm in chaos

Yesterday was that traumatic day that comes 2-3 times a year, when my sewing machine goes into the shop.  The emotional stress that is associated with the process of making sure that now specialty attachment is left on the machine etc, and then driving across the city, and leaving the poor thing behind, for who knows how long.  Probably longer than I think because my DH told the fellow that he thought the machine was a "lemon".  OMG!

So home to the temporary studio which, is after all, just a small bedroom.  I can't believe how much stuff we have actually got into that room!  And with machine bits and pieces scattered allover and pieces of dyed fabric on top of that, it was truly chaos.

It is somewhat tidied up now, and I'm left with the problem of what to do with myself while I wait for Baby to come home. Well,  my Dear Sister (DS), who is my companion hexie maker, and I have been talking about making draw string bags.  Not necessarily out of hexies, but that's the direction my brain is moving.  At the same time, the fibre art group I spent last Saturday with, issued a challenge requiring that we actually make something out of the the altered fabric we made that day.  I can use that to test the pattern I will develop for a bag made out of the hexies.  This should work well as my Pfaff, which is now set up in the small studio, does a great job of piecing and general construction,

Again, no pictures.  I expect it will be al least another week before  we are able to set up the newer computer--the one that will allow me to post pictures to the blog.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Fun---sort of

Next Sunday is the meeting of my ATC trading group.  Most of these ladies are quite accomplished artists, and I'm not sure what they make of me and my fibre.  The cards that I make for the trades  tend to lean more toward mixed media than fibre.  This months theme is "Romance"----not one of my strengths, and I've been bothered all month with trying to find a design. Any design!  LOL

 But recently, in a book, there was reference to Robert Burns poem "Red, Red Rose".  I found it on the internet and manipulated it until it would fit on a card and still be legible.  How to get \a rose on a card??  Well I found an image of a red rose, that was the right size, and printed it .  Now,if I could remember how to load the image into PSE, I could have done that and reduced it to a line drawing and then printed it on the cards.  But I'm not that smart.  so, using tracing paper, I produced a line drawing--12 times--and painted it with acrylics.   Then tore it out to produce a feathered edge, and attached it to the reverse side of the cards on which the poem was printed, with gel medium.  It took all afternoon,but i think I have 11 cards that will be suitable to take to the trade.  These aren't great cards,but, at least,  I have something. And, unless I'm mistaken the meeting is actually taking place on Robbie Burns Day, so they are even more appropriate.

Next months theme, I'm ready for.  It is recycling.  I have cut up a green quilt that didn't work, and with a few beads, should have something worthy of a fibre artist.

Friday, January 16, 2015


Constraint is finished.  This is another one that will probably never be shown.  I certainly like it and see it as a soft, gentle piece that makes me feel good.  The hexies continue to go together.  I have my width, and am now working on squaring up the piece.

I have started another, larger piece.  My studio is overflowing with hand dyed fabric, so I decided to make a scrap quilt and donate it to charity.  My plan involved a center panel, and four border panels, to be put together using Sharon Pedersen's reversible quilt process.  I got the center panel put together and showed it to a group of friends.  The ladies got quite excited and expressed that they thought it was something special, and I should pursue it as a fibre art piece.  The next day I showed it to another friend, with more experience in fibre art who felt quite strongly that I should keep it as a piece in itself, even if I then made a separate center panel for the donation quilt.  So I have bought fabric to make the donation quilt separately, and have started quilting the original piece.  Tomorrow there is a meeting of my fibre art support group,and I'm planning to take it there for even more experienced opinions.

So why no pictures?  Our principal computer as crashed and is off to the repair shop for a couple of weeks,  Since it is still on warrantee, we don't mind waiting for it to go to Toronto for repair at minimal cost.  I am now trying to use a very old laptop--one that won't process the pictures in a way that I can access them for attachment.  The pictures will continue to accumulate in my camera and when the other computer comes home, I'll be making a huge picture post.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Still thinking about "Constraint"

A fibre art support group has issued a challenge to create a piece using "line" as the principal design element.  At the same time I created two Shibori pieces that were a disappointment--quite pale with very little value contrast, but beautiful in their own way.   Why not combine both challenges in one piece? This could also be my first piece applying the emphasis on constraint.  As part of the design process I got out my favourite "navel gazing" book,  :The Book of Runes" by Ralph H. Blum.  Now this is a book that uses Runes to focus on self exploration and discovery: in no way are we talking about witchcraft or predicting the future.  It is a book that I have frequently found useful in my design work. The section on "Constraint" is too long to reproduce, but talks about the necessity of holding back, of the need to re-consider plans, and the need to make sure that you are prepared --that is have everything ready, before going forward with your plan.  Having everything ready includes your own skill set--exactly what has been my recent concern.

So off I went to plan my piece.  I drafted a pattern--not my usual way of working. I cut out each pattern piece carefully and made sure everything fit before proceeding.  I even carefully measured my limited fabric before cutting.

And here it is, ready for machine quilting, even if it is sideways.  The right side is actually the bottom.  I guess I should have worked on my computer skills as well.  I have no idea how to fix this, but you can see the design.  I'm hoping that by enlarging the picture you wil  be able to see the markings for quilting, which will be done in a matching light blue thread.  The orange was a very small piece of Shibori that I consider one of the best I ever made. This piece will quite likely end up as part of my "crap quota", but that's okay

Friday, January 2, 2015

Word of the Year and potential Resolutions

This time of year the QuiltArt Yahoo group re-visits the idea of picking a word to guide your work over the next year.  Most of the words chosen are well thought out.  while I've given a great deal of thought to my word, I have been less conscientious about following through.  this year, in consideration of some of the technical problems I ran into with my pain piece, I chose the word "skill"  It is very obvious that I have to spend sometime re-developing the skills that I have lost over the past couple of years, because of poor health.  the other consideration , that lead to this word, came out of a discussion on the QuiltArt Yahoo group about the relative importance of good workmanship in conveying whatever message you hope your work contains.  I have always believed that poor workmanship detracts from your work in many ways.  If I do not beleive inmy message enough to put forth my best possibloe technical skill, how can anyone else respect my work enough to seek out the message it contains.

The other word I considered was "constraint".  I want to embellish everything, and sometimes, go very much too far..  But there is a time and place for embellishment, and I have to force myself to wait to see what the piece demands in terms of embellishment.  Over the past few years, i have been casually exploring Shibori dyeing.  I take a "serendipity" approach, and sometimes get a wonderful result, and sometimes the result is "ho hum". That sort of fabric is often cut and pieced into a wall hanging. Regardless,the Shibori dyed fabric is soft,and the colours usually muted.  This is not the place for glitter and beads.  But if I look at the fabric as ethnic and maybe, rustic, wooden or bone beads might fit in nicely.  I have to step back, resist my impulse to add shiny beads, and let the piece tell m how far to go.  With Shibori dyed fabric, less is frequently enough,