Monday, March 31, 2008

Embellisher Experiment #8, continued: Trees

I literally just looked up from the embellisher and out the window to get inspiration for the next step in this experiment. Yesterday's basic hillsides were meant to be covered by a couple of trees in the foreground...

I started with this sort of flimsy knitable "ribbon". I think it is felted on like a breeze.

On the left of the picture you can see the variegated woolen yarn I used for the smaller branches.

And now I am adding some apple blossoms out of 4mm ribbon from Riversilks. There will no doubt be some out of season flowers added in the foreground before this is all over!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Embellisher Experiment #8: Lurid Sunrise

Today I was free to play with the Embellisher again after too long a hiatus!
I have always been fascinated by clouds and have tried many times to capture them in fabric. This time I went for a sunrise, using some hand-dyed silk fibers and polyester sheers over a hand-dyed cotton background fabric.
The hills in the foreground are simply felt-appliqued.

This was a quick composition, taking not much more than an hour. I wanted to explore how the fabrics and fibers would behave. Next I will see what kind of detail I can add with some hand stitching...
This piece measures 10 1/2" X 11".

Meanwhile, the funky knitting project is growing....

I had forgotten how seductive knitting can be. It is hard to put down.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Knitting Follies

We cannot let our hands get restless while we are in between projects.
So before I launch into my next crazy quilt piece, which is going to be a bit more involved than what has been happening this winter, I decided to find a couple of knitting needles and pull out my box of fibers (which last appeared during the creation of a totebag last summer).
We've been watching the Nero Wolfe series from Netflix in the evenings, and I have been knitting!

None of the fibers is longer than a yard or two; most are much shorter.
This is pretty silly but it is fun, and could even look good when it is 6 feet long and draped around my neck on a cold winter's day! (If I want to revive my old hippie days, that is...)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Esther Embellishes!

I live with guys, and have for decades, two sons and a dear husband. The cat is my only female ally up here on the hill where we live.
But lo and behold, my son has a girlfriend who loves to work with fiber!!! Glory be!
We had some time together this afternoon in my sewing room.

Here is Esther quite involved with the Embellisher.
I had set out a bunch of materials for her to work with--especially some soy fiber, as she is vegan and prefers not to work with silk or wool--and turned her loose, tactfully absenting myself for the first hour so she could play with no one looking over her shoulder.

When her base composition was done, she asked if she could try some stitching.
Are you kidding?
Here she is picking out some threads....

Exploring and adding detail....

Here is her creation up to now...she tried some new stitches, added some that her mom had taught her as a child...we told stories as we worked, whiled away some nice time together....

And now she is in the kitchen cooking dinner with my son!
Pinch me, someone!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Waste Canvas Block....Finished

Pam Kellogg's book was a lot of fun to work with. I'll be writing about it in detail for the next issue of CQMagOnline, but in the meantime, here are some pictures.

Once all the seams were stitched, I got to add the beads. It's been too long since I played with all my beads! It was a good warm-up for the big Bead Expo that Interweave is putting on in Portland this week-end. I plan on doing a little shopping...just a little....

The seams looked really nice before, but I can't help but think that the beads bring them to life.

My friend KT loves things that sparkle and shine, so I just had to go for it!

And meanwhile, the college boy is home for spring break and comes into the sewing room every now and again. Here he is explaining some new programming language he is learning for the fun of it while he is on vacation from school.
I had forgotten how much I enjoyed his elaborate technical monologues. I can even just barely sort of semi follow them!
His girlfriend is here too and God Bless her has brought her needlework. I am going to introduce her to the embellisher tomorrow.....should be fun!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Waste Canvas Block

I am writing a book review of Pam Kellogg's ebook, Elegant Crazy Quilt Seam Treatments, for the upcoming issue of CQMagOnline. So to help myself burrow into the contents of the book, I am using it to create the embellishments on a block, doing a test drive, as it were.

I pieced the block using straight seams to accommodate Pam's charted designs. She says she is working on a way to adapt some of them to curved seams, which I am eagerly waiting for. Of course, these designs can be used on gentle curves as is, but for my review I want to use the book the way it is intended.
This block is also doing dual duty, as it will become a present for my friend, KT, as well. ;-)
Those are some of my floral letters and flower fabric framing them. I sure love using my flower helps fight the effects of the omnipresent gray skies around here.

Here is the block so far.
This kind of work is really satisfying; the math and counting remind me of my early attempts to read music, massaging a part of my brain I don't use often enough!
I can't wait, though, til all the stitching is on the block, so I can start adding the beads and sequins to the can click on Pam's blog to see how she does that, too.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Breakfast with Barbara

Blogging friend Barbara Curiel, of Thinking Out Loud, was in Portland this week-end with her lovely daughter...and we had the pleasure of meeting up for breakfast this morning.
We each brought some of our work to show and tell, and she gave me a lovely bag of goodies to sew was just so wonderful to see her and meet her daughter too.

This picture was taken especially for JoWynn....we are waving to YOU, friend.
But we send our greetings to all our blogging circle of stitchers, too.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Take It Further, March...Finished

Finishing is not my favorite part....but everything is done, down to the binding.

The lettering took about a day...the space in the center of my felted background was always intended for a greeting, or message...and at this beautiful season of Easter, and soon, Passover, this is the phrase that came to mind...

The little things in nature that we notice are indeed blessings as well!

"Blessings to You"

16 1/2" X 20 1/2"

Thank you all for your very kind comments about this piece as it went along. It was really a joy to make!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Take It Further, March...Critters

The little guys we notice in nature...some of my favorites are now represented on my Take It Further challenge piece for March, which most readers know is being hosted by our most gracious leader, Sharon Boggon.

Is that froggies bead the cutest thing EVER? My friend Kate Richbourg, owner of the wonderful store Beadissimo in the Mission District of San Francisco, sent it to me over a year ago and I have been waiting for the perfect place to use it. This is it! They remind me of the Pacific Chorus Frogs that live in the pond below us and are currently providing beautiful music in the middle of the night. They are loud!
Also there are some ants (dressed in white for this piece), representing the anthill in my perennial garden whose members have been keeping me company for 15 years now....and there is a snail too.

More ants and a bee....we love the bees, get scads of bumblebees in the lavender every year.

Here is an overall view. I did add a couple more lace and button flowers...and thanks to Pam Kellogg for those little doilies, too!
All that is left to be done is the "saying", or message, that will go in the the old-fashioned greeting postcards of old.
I could do a whole series based on those lovely postcards....
Anyway, this piece requires a binding to frame it all in, so that will be last. Should be done in a couple days....

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Take It Further, March...Embellishing

The main challenge in this piece is how to integrate all the different elements in it.
The collaged and buttonholed leaves did help...and I decided to keep most of the embellishment along the seams simple and consistent throughout the piece to mimic the "all-overness' of the buttonhole stitch. (The thread I used for the buttonholing is called "Isis" by Wonderfil).

I added a few other goodies in there, though!

Here is my progress as of this morning...

Blogger is being MOST recalcitrant about loading pictures (and has been for a couple of weeks) so this detail is all I can post for now.
Next I will have a go at developing the laces and also adding my little bugs and critters here and there...

Friday, March 14, 2008

March TIF..Machine Buttonhole Applique Completed

My, that was tedious!

Buttonholing along the curves was not a problem...but negotiating all those pointy edges in the leaves took awhile!

I used some of the same lace in the frame as I had used in the photograph, and remembered to put it in place right before I started sewing down the leaves in my buttonholing marathon..

Now for "desert"...adding all my little embellishments...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Take It Further, March...Piecing and Collage

Kathy over at Out of the Basement commented that she thought the little ants that you see on the title bar of my blog would be good on this quilt. How right she the subject of this piece is the little things in nature that delight us so when we take the time to look for them. So there will be ants!

I had a great time piecing the frame that surrounds my flower picture. I seem to be working in this format a lot with my inkjet printed imagery (the "N is for Nora" and the "K is for Kreinik" pieces come to mind).

May and I had a very pleasant morning getting the piecing underway.

This measures 16 1/2 " X 22".
I realized quickly that I wanted to keep the values in the frame lighter than the colors in the photo image. I just like the contrast this sets up,and the way it keeps the attention on the flowers.
Also I cut up and used a little of the felted background fabric from the photo in the piecing, which was something I had wanted to try.
But the frame itself is intended to serve as a background of sorts...

I wanted to add some collaged elements on top of the crazy piecing...I haven't tried that before, either.
This 505 Spray and Fix is just great stuff for collaging fabric. I spray the back of my cut out leaves (on newspaper to protect my table) and then am able to smooth them into place on my crazy quilt, moving and rearranging them as I need to.

Which brings me to here.
I toyed with the idea of felt-appliqueing these on with the embellisher...but decided I didn't want that frayed edge look here. I don't want to use my usual clear thread in a free-motion zigzag either. So I am going to try machine buttonhole stitching these leaves into place. I want to see how well that will work with the hand-done seam treatments that will go between the patches.
So tomorrow is for machine applique....

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Embellisher Experiment #7, Felted Background...and Take it Further, March

This is also going to count as my Take it Further challenge for March. Noticing the little things...

I love to make fresh flower collages and then photograph them...old time blog readers remember this from last year I am sure. Well, yesterday marked the beginning of the flower season for 2008!
I thought it would be fun to use the Embellisher to help create the background fabric that I would lay my flowers out on. The printed fabric image from the resultant photograph will in turn become the center of a small crazy quilt. (I can't stay away from CQing for very long.)

The TIF concept came into play yesterday as I hunted the yard for blooms, and noticed the tiniest signs of growth everywhere. From the delicate fronding on the moss to some wee spider egg cocoons at the base of a forsythia flower...there were tiny miracles everywhere that gave me big thrills!

I started with some plain muslin, painting it with Tsukineko inks.

Then I started laying down some silk and merino fibers with the embellisher.

After all the fibers were swirled on there (also a few shreds of sheer silk), I laid out the lace I wanted to include. I just pinned that in place, though, as I will want to reuse it elsewhere.

Then I went out into the cool gray morning and found riches in the tiniest details!

So here we have hellebore, primula, forsythia, miniature and large sized daffodils, violets, grape hyacinth, some tiny pink flowers I don't know the name of, and the humble vinca...with two kinds of moss tucked in the corners. The spider egg cocoons are the three little white dots you see along the left edge, right in the center.
There is going to be lettering applied in the central blue space...

This was printed on cotton sateen from Dharma....and is for Easter, of course.... ;-)

Now to get piecing!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Embellisher Experiment #6, Felted Landscape

I wanted to see what it would be like to create a miniature landscape using the Embellisher. My plan was to use it as the center patch of a crazy quilt block, in place of the photo-transferred images that are often featured there.
Carolyn Cibik, of Evening Star Designs, calls those central patches "silkies". I used one of the block designs from her CD for my project. (She has incredibly beautiful silkies for sale on her site...but I didn't use one of those this time around.)

This CD would be absolutely fantastic for beginning crazy quilters. Her block designs are interesting and her instructions make sewing them easy. You can order it here.

First I marked out the shape of the central patch from Carolyn's block design...

I've used a heavy cotton duck for my foundation this time. It worked great.
I fused some sky to the foundation fabric, and then started building my landscape with the embellisher.

Doesn't this look like fun?

Here it is pieced into Carolyn's block, but something was missing...

Mt. Hood, of course! How could I have forgotten that?
Then I began just covering the whole block with embroidery. The suggestion is of looking through a window at the mountain, but I wanted to get some foresty-type growth in there, too.

These little leaves were cut out of some vintage velvet ribbon, then fly-stitched into place with some cotton perle from Weeks Dye Works.

Here is the finished block. The blue flowers are my ode to the rare Himalayan poppies that I can imagine growing on the slopes of Mt. Hood. You can see I have touched up the mountain and also added a bit more blue to the sky with soft pastel pencil, in order to provide more contrast.
This 8" block is part of my attempt to figure out how to integrate my little landscapes with crazy quilting....

I am awaiting some silk and merino fibers to arrive in the mail for my next Embellisher experiment, but in the meantime the Take It Further challenge for March beckons....again like last month, the color palette doesn't thrill me although it would be good to work with something like that, that one is not naturally drawn to (and I could use another of Carolyn's block designs), but the concept, "pay attention to the tiny details" is wonderful. Not sure which way I will jump....

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Garden Labor!

60 degree days and sunshine!!!!
I've been edging and enlarging the beds in my perennial garden. It feels so good to be out there digging in the dirt.

Defining the new borders of the beds was really the easy part. Now I have to go back and break up all that sod and work in some manure, too.
This view is looking towards the southeast.

And this is looking northwest.

And here is the composted manure pile, brought by our neighbor. This is to be worked into my expanded beds, once they have all been forked up.
I feel like the girl in "Rumplestiltskin" who must spin the whole room of straw into gold...except the whole manure pile must be spun into flowers....

But on days like this, it is all good!

I am almost finished with Embellisher Experiment #6. I'll post that tomorrow....I think my back is going to need a break anyway....!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Embellisher Experiment #5, Denim Shirt, Finished

This really didn't take that long, but what an easy way to dress up a denim shirt. To Marg in Calgary who commented....that Stampede sounds fun and it would be a great place to wear this! I had my cousin's cattle ranch in Wagon Mound, NM in mind, too....

The Battenburg lace has so much going on that I just embroidered simple blue backstitching along the tape, to secure it on and soften it up a little more. A little row of picot-edged lace with some pearly-beads down the front, a few loops in the eyelets there...those were the only elements I added.

So here is the back....

And here is the front. It will look just fine over a new white Tshirt...!