To Fill a Design Wall!

With the completion of Ground Zero Reborn, my design wall looked quite blank. My plans for my next art quilt were uncertain so I wondered if perhaps I would be staring at a blank wall for a bit. Not to worry! Quilts Beyond Borders NW Regional Coordinator Susan Schmidt mailed me a collection of odds and ends that had potential for some nautical themed quilts if there was someone to pick up the challenge.

I can’t say that I would ever have purchased most of the prints but, hey, a challenge is a challenge. So, over the past weeks my design wall has been busy.  This first top used a number of blocks that had already been pieced. I was able to sort through the miscellaneous strips and odd remnants and come up with what I considered an acceptable layout:

The next top that I sent Susan used some of the fabrics that appealed a bit more to me. Once again, I received a few blocks and miscellaneous strips. These were accompanied by a large amount of that mini-anchor fabric. I instinctively would have preferred the border to have been some of the darker blue fabric but I needed to work with what was before me.

The next group of fabrics that I tackled were quite strange and I have not yet actually completed a top. However, I have a plan! 🙂

I have purchased some blue fabric that matches the blue in those mini blocks quite well and plan to fill in blue so those pictorials are surrounded by blue strips with those mini-blocks interspersed. I haven’t quite found the energy yet to tackle the math for cutting the needed pieces so this group is now sitting in a pile on my floor while I play a bit with Karen Ruane on a project called Artist Books (more about that in another post). There will be one more top at least, I expect, for Quilts Beyond Borders, using up the remaining fabric. It has been a good use of my time. I find the quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi to be quite true: “For it is in giving that we receive.” I find great comfort in the thought that these functional quilts may bring comfort to children who are in difficult times.

Linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday so you can check out other artists!

 

Wrapping Up Dreams

One of my projects towards the end of last year was to create a wrapping cloth. Many of the participants in my stitching group with Karen Ruane were creating cloths and so there was a lot of camaraderie.  Much of the written history that I could find traces the origins of wrapping cloths to the Japanese as early as the Nara period (710-784). The custom has spread world wide with cloths used to wrap precious items or hold precious thoughts, tiny pockets can metaphorically hold loving wishes for a recipient – the interpretations and applications are endless.

My wrapping cloth is relatively small (21″ x 15″) and I focused upon a theme of joy and playfulness in creating it. Since I was concurrently formulating a design for an art quilt on Ground Zero in Manhattan, it was a good contrasting focus for me! The cloth is quite detailed with many hidden pockets and embroideries. I am quite pleased with the results and happy to share with you.

Detail photos:

Hidden pocket and cutwork insert

surface pocket with hidden embroidery behind it (pictured below)

 

 

 

Linking with Nina Marie Sayre’s Off the Wall Friday so you can see what other artists have been up to.

A Trio of Memories

Those that touch our lives
stay in our hearts forever

My Aunt Eleanor was blessed to live a long and amazing life. Her three children are all special cousins to me. After her passing at the age of 100, my cousin Kate was kind enough to share with me some vintage French lace doilies that her Mom had tucked away. The doilies had never been used and were still held together by a single stitch and a tag of origin.  I decided to create a trio of small wrapping cloths for my cousins from them.

For a contrasting fabric to the white lace doilies, I used a fat quarter of an aboriginal design cloth that I had run across while I was visiting the La Conner Quilt Museum last fall. Using some spun silk broadcloth as a base, I created three unique cloths for my three cousins and saved them for holiday giving. The wrapping cloths have now been distributed so I thought I would share some photos on this blog. I am particularly pleased with how they turned out.

I was able to draw upon many of the stitches and techniques from my studies with Karen Ruane in creating these pieces.

In the detail photo below, you catch a glimpse of some gimp anchored with bullion knots and stab stitches. Karen is using gimp in her own compositions in the most amazing ways. I chose here to simply create a line echoing the triangular prairie points and highlighting three pieces of the lace. You can really appreciate the beauty of the lace in this close up.

In the composition detailed below, I used some covered cording to create a design line and then added some appliqué circles outlined with chain stitches and yo-yos as a background to the lace doilies.

My third piece used the largest doily in the group. I used French knots, gimp, and chain stitching as well as some small appliqué circles to offset the larger lace piece.

All three pieces were backed with white cotton fabric and given a finishing touch of an edging of small running stitches.

I had many fond moments remembering time with my Aunt as I was stitching these mementos for her children. My hope is that the pieces I created will bring back many similar memories for each of my cousins when they happen upon them in their own homes.

New Facebook Page

With the start of the new year, I have begun an artist page on Facebook. I am slowly developing a gallery there which eventually will highlight my hand stitchery as well as my art quilts. I will also use the page to share posts as I create new works. I intend to still blog here several times a month but if you would like to also follow my new page, here is the link.

 

Goodbye 2016!

The last day of the year! Perhaps, more than ever, I am grateful to have 2016 fade into memory. Looking back over my blog, it has been a good year. Perhaps my eagerness to let it go stems from the fact that the post-Thanksgiving weeks of 2016 seem to have been filled with family illness and stress. Who would not want to have that fade away!

But, when I step back and glance through my posts for the past year, I have to admit that it has been a pretty productive year.  I completed a number of art quilts that I am pleased with, donated a number of quilts and tops to Quilts Beyond Borders, entered a few shows and was pleased to be accepted, took the time to take two classes with Elizabeth Barton, and continued throughout the year to be part of Karen Ruane‘s hand stitching groups.

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Ghost Trees appeared in exhibits in Taiwan and Washington State

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After the Storm made its debut at the La Conner Museum Annual Quilt Fest

In my personal life, it was my first complete year living out west and the most memorable event undoubtedly was the birth of my second grandchild, Miriam, in March. Her arrival certainly dominated my life for the remainder of the year. Of that, I have no regrets.

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2017 holds so much potential…….I am still sorting my goals and projects for the coming year. For now, I am content to say good bye to 2016 and wish everyone:

Happy New Year!

What ever happened to World Peace?

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‘World Peace’ was the working working title for the art quilt I blogged about in early September. The irony of that title often had me chuckling this fall. It was a great idea – combining the old Irish language of Ogham with popular symbols of peace to create a vertical wall hanging. The 3 inch square blocks containing the symbols offered an opportunity to spotlight my hand stitching. A technique I had used years ago to reverse appliqué blocks using some of my Bernina’s decorative stitches felt like just the right touch. I had the perfect piece of hand dyed fabric for the background.

For six weeks I sampled and played. All seemed to be going well. But then I began to pull it all together. The thought ‘world peace is never easy’ went through my mind repeatedly. The best laid plans just didn’t come together just right. I found myself thinking ‘ well, that doesn’t look too bad’. There came a point where I stepped back and realized that I was thinking that thought just too many times.

And so, ‘World Peace’ was put to rest. I withdrew from the challenge and redirected my energy to other projects. I have been busy with Quilts Beyond Borders and my class Wrapped and Bound in Stitch with Karen Ruane. It has been a few weeks now. I think it is the first time I have actually stopped creating a piece so far into the process. It definitely felt strange at first – particularly because no other art quilt project replaced it. It was the last piece that I had planned to make in 2016.

And, world peace? Well, it certainly doesn’t look like the world is embracing it just now……..the past few days I have wondered about cutting up those less than perfect elements of my abandoned quilt and reconstructing a more chaotic portrayal, perhaps with lots of question marks… After all, ‘world peace’ would be messy and certainly not simple. The bottom line though is that, really, it is not a concept to be given up on.  We will see what 2017 brings. For now, I will leave you with a song that speaks to the need far better than any words I can write. How sad that this performance was 26 years ago and we are still waiting.

One Step at a Time

By perseverance the snail reached the ark.
Charles Spurgeon

Progress is made one tiny step at a time. So it was with this week. As I gaze over at my design wall while I write this, I see reminders of this week.

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No more progress on the ‘World Peace’ theme piece and that ‘Aspen 3’ art quilt is still waiting to be bound. However, the ‘Morning Walk’ art quilt is now completely quilted. Threads are hanging and binding remains but the basic quilting is complete. I am relieved. I am getting antsy to move on. ‘Morning Walk’ is the last of the major summer projects and fall is beckoning!

Over on the right corner of my sewing table you can see two piles of fabric squares. They represent my next Quilt Beyond Borders top. I picked a very simple almost random block pattern and got those pieces cut this week. I hope to have it completed by next week.  🙂

My goals for fall obviously include the ‘World Peace’ piece but also a new class with Karen Ruane. This new venture is called ‘Wrapped and Bound in Stitch‘. The project for the class is what Karen calls a wrapping cloth. There is considerable leeway, as always, in what we create. Her emphasis will be on a pieced cloth with a child theme. However, I  think I am going to choose to work in primarily white-on-white with a circle theme. Back in June, I posted a photo of some lace cloth that I had made. Over the summer I gradually added on to that start and as I begin this new class, I hope to continue to grow those pieces into a fuller cloth. It will be an adventure and I am eager to begin now that my summer projects nearing finish.

This week also brought some pleasant news. My art quilt, Emergence, was selected to tour in Brazil for 2017 with Patchwork Design 2017. It will be part of a group of quilts representing the Contemporary QuiltArt Association that I joined this past year. I am delighted to have one of the 28 quilts that the Brazilian organization picked and will be shown in venues including Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Final reminder!

The 2016 SAQA Benefit Auction that I wrote about in August will be starting on September 16. It is a wonderful opportunity to acquire some beautiful works while supporting a good organization. You can learn more here.

Linking to Nine Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

Decisions, decisions!

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing,
the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
Theodore Roosevelt

 

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Should I play with my octopus or my smiley face????

I am so grateful to everyone who offered feedback through email or this blog on my current “Morning Walk” art quilt. It was wonderful to receive your thoughts and appreciate that there were many options to consider. After a quick trip over last weekend to Missoula to run a 5k with my family, I got back to work on “Morning Walk.”

Wish I could say that I can offer a finished piece and resolution of all my indecisiveness but that is just not the case. I spent hours experimenting  – a very good thing. And, I did make decisions. And, I did actually start fusing elements!

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Starting from the draft above,  I experimented with a number of choices and finally decided that the blocks were not necessary.

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Next I focused on the tree, some angulation issues that were bothering me, and the placement of the woman relative to the tree. She had been much further to the left of the tree in earlier drafts.

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This is the background that I actually fused to my muslin backing. Only the woman and the tree trunk are currently unfused. I then began to play with shadowing and adding some vague interest to the ground that the tree sits in. I still have a stash of organza that I dyed several years ago and that I love using for shadow effects. This draft below shows a first stab at adding it.  It will be changing into a much more amorphous shape on the brown area. I played with sketches last night…

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You may be wondering about ‘the fence’. I haven’t decided! 😈  The suggestion to play with adding fence in an iPad app is tempting me, as well as the suggestion to add in some strips of fabric to simulate a fence. Plus a friend in my stitching class with Karen Ruanne just posted a beautifully stitched window grate that really tempts me as a possibility. At this point, I like the direction of the piece enough to devote time in the next week to exploring these possibilities along with finishing off my shadow work.

Hopefully there will be another update next week!

Linking as always to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

The Art of Play

Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.
Michael Jordan

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Learning a lot about play from my new granddaughter. It is how she learns. She finds joy in the simplest things – a drawing of a frog on her play mat or the smile of her mother as she plays pick-a-boo with her. And, all the time, she is learning how to use her arms, her voice, and get comfortable with being in this world.

So, this week I decided to take the time to play and ‘stop and smell the roses.’ Coincidentally, I found some great roses to smell during a hike in Manito Park in Spokane.  🙂

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In my studio, I played with some silk net that I purchased last year but just hadn’t stitched on yet. Silk net is soft and delicate. I used it to create what Karen Ruane calls ‘lace cloth’ through a process using my sewing machine and hand embroidery.  I then joined my lace cloth with another piece of commercial lace that I had embellished slightly. In the coming weeks I intend to add more odd pieces of lace and other cloths. Where it will go, I don’t know. It is just play and it feels great.

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Hope that you will find time to play in the next week too!

Linking, as usual, to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday blog. Check it out!

The Little Prince

Anything that is important
is invisible to the eye.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I remember going through my Aunt’s bookcase as a little girl and finding a copy of The Little Prince. It was once of the few books in the case that I could read and I poured over it whenever we visited my Aunt and Grandmother. I can still see the book in my mind’s eye to this day.

A few weeks ago, Karen Ruane announced her next stitching class would be called “Stitching a Story.” I enrolled and we were all asked to find a book that we would use as a base for developing stitches and markings for journals and could be the basis for some stitching on cloth. I, of course, thought of The Little Prince.

I was able to find a copy at Barnes & Noble with modern illustrations.

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I must admit that I have never been involved with a project like this class. I am hoping that I will be able to keep up with the much more experienced members of the group. The fact that the book itself holds treasured memories and has always resonated with me will certainly help.

Our first suggested tasks (Karen never requires you do anything you are not comfortable with) were to create a color chart and select some accompanying threads. This was relatively simple for me as I loved the colors in the book and already had many of them in my thread ‘stash.”

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And then we were to start stitching! It was suggested we start ‘small’. I thought that sounded just fine!

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My granddaughter came over and was extremely interested in the fact that I was stitching in a book. Plus she immediately wanted the book read to her. That encouraged me so I am now working on another page.

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More instructional videos arrived from Karen today……can’t wait to see where the next week takes me!

Linking once again to Off the Wall Friday.

New projects emerge

Patience, patience, patience!

Our new granddaughter reminds me constantly of the need for patience………not having had a newborn for over 30 years, I have forgotten how helplessly we enter this world. Even though we develop at an amazing pace, the first few weeks are just a matter of trial and error and everyone trying to figure life out. (The cynic in me immediately wants to add that the process of ‘figuring life out’ continues for the rest of our years!)

As Miriam learns what it means to be alive, I spent much of the past week enjoying her presence and recording it for pleasant memories.

Grandmama

Happily, while Miriam was developing, spring also emerged enough that it was possible to begin to plant our front yard. I now can sit on a bench by our front door and watch our plantings also grow.

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Back in the studio, the theme of patience was ever present. Obviously, Miriam has cut into studio time. However, two of the three projects I hoped to begin on have begun to emerge.

This collection of thread, hankies, and cloth will become my next ‘pocket’ as I finish up my “Patched Pockets” class with Karen Ruane. Since April brings some travel with it, this pouch will be my ‘stitch as you go’ project.

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Finally, I have made inroads into my next art quilt. Some fabric from my favorite Seattle fabric store, Undercover Quilts, and some of my own hand dyed fabric created a backdrop for a sea scape I have been wanting to create. At the moment,  possibile rock candidates are pinned to the background. I have a template for an amazing piece of driftwood that will eventually rise to the sky from those rocks……next week will focus on exploring fibers for that wood.

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I am sure as this quilt evolves, Miriam will remind me to be patient. Whenever I begin an art quilt, I am my worst critic. That backdrop hung in pieces for many days while I contemplated and critiqued. When I began to add the rocks, I was dubious, but I persisted. I have learned that I need to move forward and then step back and let it set. If I have the patience to listen, the art quilt will tell me what works and doesn’t.

 Hope that you have all had a good week. If you have time, stop over and visit NinaMarie’s Off the Wall Friday blog and feast on some inspiration.

Hand Stitching Reverie

I cannot count my day complete
‘Til needle, thread and fabric meet.
~Author Unknown

I added hand stitching to my passions about two and a half years ago. The rationale was that the work would be transportable and that would be an asset with all my travels. It has grown into a daily practice that allows me to pause, breathe, and simply create something of beauty. My new studio allows me to go further with my art quilts and surface design that I ever could do before and I treasure that gift. But, my hand stitching grounds me and creates another meditative time in each day to simply savor my surroundings and gather my thoughts. Plus there is the added benefit of being part of Karen Ruane‘s online community which has expanded my network of fiber art friendships greatly.

Here is a glimpse into some of the handiwork that I have been about these past few weeks. Enjoy!

Some close ups from a silk pouch:

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A new needle case:

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And, finally a vintage doily transformed into a pocket to store treasured mementos:

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Linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

Settling In…

Smile, breathe, and go slowly.
Thich Nhat Hanh

This was the first week of Elizabeth Barton’s Basic Dyeing for Quilting at Academy of Quilting. I am so relieved that she is taking a relaxed approach to teaching us. I was more than a little concerned that we would be overwhelmed with assignments. Fortunately, since often it is necessary to wait 24 hours before the next step in a dyeing process, it is acceptable to only devote part of each day to the class and still keep up. I am relieved since, of course, I am working on a number of projects at once.

The purpose of this week’s class was to establish a work station and use it to mix the dyes we will need for the class and to do a gradation using a black dye. My ‘work station’ actually wound up stretching from the laundry room, where I had planned to work, to the neighboring powder room. I made the untimely discovery that the outlets in our laundry room do not work (call to builder in) and so I had to move my dyed material to the powder room to set for a day or two. This was necessary as the dye had to be in an environment of at least 70 degrees and my best method for achieving that was to move a space heater into a small area. It worked great and I was quite pleased with my resulting gradation.

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Whilst I was waiting for dye to set, I did continue with my other projects – probably a bit too ambitiously as I pretty much ran out of steam mid-week. My body kindly objects to overstress and so, I probably did not make as much progress on all fronts as I thought I might.

My hand stitching project for Karen Ruanne‘s Patched Pockets got some attention. You can see some of my progress in this photo:

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Then I think I mentioned that my daughter had expressed interest in a quilt for the expected baby due in March. We made great progress over the weekend on a pattern and picking out fabric, mostly from my stash. The pattern is called Basketweave by Bonnie Sullivan. Here is how it looked on my design wall as I assembled the cut pieces.

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And, then there was my winter scene art quilt. I added some more trees and a second deer and then it sort of sat while I contemplated what to do next. I decided to next address the snow on the trees. My friend, Margaret Blank, has also been working on a quilt with trees and snow. She wrote about splattering paint to create the snow in her blog earlier this week. That got me thinking…as this week closed I was still sticking to using Tsukineko Inks mixed with shaving cream and dabbed onto the trees but splattering my show up after some “base” snow is applied with inks. I played a bit on a very rough sample with some Platinum Ink…I am sure I can use it on some of the deeper trees in the forest. Discovered that I also have some “frost white” ink that I think I will apply rather heavily on some of the larger trees at the top of the ridge. At least now I have a plan of approach…..next week I hope to disassemble the forest (having photographed the placement of trees) and begin to fuse and then apply snow. My object is an abstract sort of representation of the forest. Will be exciting to see how much progress I make – it will be a function of EB’s assignment in the dyeing class, I suspect. The photograph below demonstrates my relaxed approach to sampling – believe it or not, it was enough for me to come up with my current plan of action. The left represents the background forest and how the next progression of trees will appear over them (yes, it only took one piece of an over lapping branch to tell me what I needed to know), the right represents the ridge trees.  🙂

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In case you wondered about my Eiffel Tower project, well that did just sit. However, one of the women in my stitching class with Karen shared some excellent lettering that she had done. Lightbulbs went off and I now know my next step on that piece. It will just take me a bit to implement it.

Finally, let you think I spent the entire week tied to my studio. I did get to sneak out for a bit of shopping and found the most adorable outfit for a new born.

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On that happy note, I will link to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday blog. See you next week!

 

Jan 2016 start

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
Martin Luther King

It has been a good week. That’s not to say there haven’t been the usual amount of ups and downs but I love that I am back in my studio!

One project of the week was a curtain for my second grandchild whom we expect to be born in March. I had made her sister’s curtains so I already knew what was involved – and this time I had both the luxury of my daughter being able to pick out the fabric with me and being able to run over to her home to double-check some measurements and techniques as I stitched the curtains up.

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This is the week that my online class with Karen Ruanne started. It is so great to be viewing Karen’s videos again. The theme is Patched Pockets with an emphasis on using vintage hankies. As of yesterday, I had a tentative layout for half of my first ‘pocket’ of the class.

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And, of course, there is the tsukineko ink experiments that I have been participating in. I have been doing far less than my online pals but I did explore using the inks for my current Paris project. I started optimistically as I was getting feedback that loading a brush with ink and then dipping in gel was a good approach. If you look at my explorations, you can see that my results were certainly mixed. Guess which is when I overloaded ink on the brush! I did find a way that I want to use the inks in the winter scene project I will discuss next, but I have moved on for the current Paris piece to a new idea.

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Most of my attention went to my new art quilt based on the winter scene I wrote about last week. As you can see, I am really getting into it (and that feels great!). I have a long way to go…….none of the trees are fused, nor is most of the snow……lots more to add in terms of trees, snow on trees, and accents in the foreground, rocks, etc. But, this piece is growing on me daily.

 

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My mylar ‘pattern’

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You have to start somewhere……..my first tree experiments

 

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More trees, still experimenting

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Sorry about the light reflections from my overhead lighting though I must say I like the effect. In this photo, you can start to get the feel of the forest.

That is where I am leaving things for this week. With a little luck, I will move forward with all of these projects, plus there is this quilt my daughter would like for the new nursery.  🙂

P.S. Linking to Nina Marie’s  Off the Wall Friday blog. Please check out other artists.

 

Forging Ahead with a Smile

In 2016,
may your hand always be stretched out in friendship
and never in need.

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As this year draws to a close, I continue to wind up assorted projects and plan for some new ones. This past week I finished the quilt for Quilts Beyond Borders that I had started last month.  Here is a view of finished piece:

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I also have committed myself to two new classes for the start of the year. I mentioned Karen Ruanne’s Patched Pockets last week. I have added Elizabeth Barton’s Basic Dyeing for Quiltmakers which also starts in January. I know from my last class with Elizabeth that her lessons are chock full of information. I am hoping that some will be review and that I will learn some new hints that will make dyeing seem less like a major project and something that I will be willing to play with on a more regular basis. It is only a five week course and two dear web friends will be in it, so I am really looking forward to it.

With two online classes planned, it remains to be seen how much additional fiber work I will get done. I have one stitching project relating to Paris that is in process. I also hope to tackle a new art quilt based upon this photo that I took from our front window.

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The trees will be a challenge – I hope to create a layered abstract effect so you may see a lot of experimentation amidst my reports on my online studies.

I hope you will be joining me on my journey through 2016. It is bound to be an adventure and I appreciate your companionship!

Time flies….

The holiday season certainly makes the time fly by! I returned from my trip to the East Coast just over a week ago and immediately got into holiday preparations and a quick drive over to Seattle. The trip back East was extremely busy. I packed up about 10 boxes of household items to ship out to Spokane. They have all arrived safely and our second house feels more and more like a home. While I was in NYC, I did manage to visit a few places in the garment district and couldn’t resist picking up some additional fabrics.

These will work wonderfully in my hand stitching projects:

Elegant white cottons

 

And, this piece of cotton fabric from Japan may just show up in some of my art quilts as well!

Japanese cotton print

For now, it found its first application in a piece that I have been stitching for the past month for the end table by my bed in our new home.

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Despite all the chaos of the past few weeks, I have been steadily working on projects and the piece for my nightstand is now complete:

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While home in Victor, I also stopped in my favorite antique mall to see if there were any new finds. I am taking another stitching class with Karen Ruane in January called Patched Pockets.  A theme in the class involves using vintage hankies. I think these will work nicely in the class:

Vintage hankies

Amidst all this activity, I have been gradually developing a plan for the new year but am not quite ready to commit it to print! Perhaps by next week!

Wishing the best for everyone in this holiday season!

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View from my studio today

 

 

On the road again!

I am a pilgrim and a traveler
And I love the journey like I love my home.

Ellen Stapenhorst

I am heading back East this week. I have had the luxury of staying fairly put this fall as we settled into our new second home. But, life calls and it time to be back on the road again. It brought to mind a song by a dear friend of mine, Ellen Stapenhorst, called Traveler. If you would like to hear it, please visit Ellen’s website. She has an audio clip of the song on the front page. All of Ellen’s music is inspirational so I think you might find the trip over to her site worth your time.

As I head out, my studio and my head feel a bit at loose ends. Ever been there? Here is a sampling of the many directions I am being pulled in:

  • I have ideas for at least one new art quilt that I am exploring but finding the right fabrics, the right techniques is taking time. Great reminder that we can’t have everything NOW!
  • I also have another quilt in process for Quilts Beyond Borders using some cheery fabric that was sent to me. It is farther along than the photo below, actually ready for quilting, but unfortunately my Bernina 830 jammed and I had to bring it in for service.  I depend on my 830 for quilting so the pinned quilt is lying over in a corner in a roll waiting the return of my machine. A great lesson in letting go and being okay with leaving the studio with a goal not met.
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  • Playing with techniques for the new art quilt took me back to playing with those Tsukineko inks again. It didn’t pan out for the art quilt, in fact I thought the results were pretty disappointing……until I heat set my samples. I now have some beautiful small pink silk squares that I know I can cut up and use in my hand stitching projects! A good lesson is just keep trying, just keep trying – what looks like a disappointment is actually just an opportunity to create material for a yet-to-be-designed project.
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  • And then there is the whole realm of handstitching! A small project for our new home has been floating around in my studio too with progress slowly happening. In addition, I have been following Karen Ruanne‘s Sampling for Stitch class for the past two months. I haven’t been actually making any sample pages – the purpose of the class. Instead I have just been listening to the videos and taking in the information. I know I will use it in future works. That is what I love about Karen’s classes – it is fine to participate at any level that works for you at the moment.  Looking ahead a bit, I will start 2016 by enrolling and participating in Karen’s new class, Patched Pockets.  And, thinking of that new class, I decided it might be nice to complete some of the pockets from the previous class on pockets with Karen. So, I did spend some time this week completing one.
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Which brings me to the end of this bit of a ramble post. If it sounds like I am dashing off in varied directions, it is because I am – both mentally and physically! If you would like to follow my adventures while I return to the East Coast with a stop in NYC, I will be posting on Instagram under the name judywar.

Finally, I would like to offer you one more source of inspiration for your own journey. I follow the blog of Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventures. This week she has a beautifully written post, Why I am Giving My Family Nothing for Christmas. Just like Ellen’s song, it is worth your time to check it out. I am not suggesting you return all those gifts you may have been collecting for the holidays, but her thoughts are a wonderful reminder of what really is important in our journeys.

Design, Design, Design

Last week I gave you a peek at the online design class I am taking with Elizabeth Barton. At the same time, I am also taking a design class with Karen Ruanne, Reinventing the Page. This class has been equally fun, particularly in juxtaposition to Elizabeth’s class.

Here is quick glimpse at a progression of designs I have building in Karen’s class.

Basic doodles

Two Starting Doodles

Doodle2

Playing with repetition

Doodle3

Expanding on a theme

Doodle4

More expansion and repetition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

doodle5

Combining original motifs

Doodle6

Further Expansion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where all this will ultimately lead, I can’t say. But, I am definitely enjoying the process! And, I can already feel the impact of stepping back and just playing with designs on my creative process for future works.

If you would like a glimpse into Karen Ruanne’s process that resulted in the class I am taking,  she is posting a series of five videos on her blog while she is traveling. The first videos at least deal with sketching out designs.  The videos are brief, under 10 minutes, so you can get a quick feel into how she works. I have been studying with Karen for over a year now and grown to love her process and her way of sharing through video. You can find the videos on her blog.

As always, linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

Creating Cheer and A Decision

Keep your face to the sunshine
And you cannot see a shadow.

Helen Keller

I had put together the makings from some smaller projects to take on a trip that didn’t happen. So, I decided to follow through with some of them at home. One result is this cheerful little pin pillow.

Yellow_pin_cushion

I chose the yellow tones to brighten up my days as I stitched. Perhaps Mother Nature took the hint as there was a lovely display of sunshine on my living room floor as I photographed this!

I got the idea for the little cushion from Karen Ruane, my online stitching instructor and friend. She calls them pin pillows and they do work quite well as what we in American would call pin cushions. However, I have also found them to perfect for other purposes. One of mine is now a pillow for a certain stuffed animal that sleeps in my granddaughter’s home. I am using another as a resting spot for my eyeglasses which I unfortunately need to reach for first thing in the morning to find my way through a day.

Speaking of Karen, she is offering a new class in April which deals with what she calls ledgers. It is about creating paper journals of ideas for projects, patterns, stitch combinations that you might like to explore. A unique idea for those of us who like to just plunge in and start cutting and sewing! As always, the material is presented through a series of videos where the student is ‘a fly on the wall’ while Karen stitches and chats. I find it a very effective learning method for me. If you want to learn more, you can visit Karen’s website.

And a decision!

I was overjoyed with the response to my query last week on To Crop or Not To Crop. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your perspectives with me. When we create a piece, I can get so tied into the process and critiquing it that I fail to see the finished project. That sounds funny but it is true. I look at what I have created and I see the areas where my stitching wasn’t quite up to par. One of the fun results of asking for opinions was hearing what each of you saw in my piece.

I waited a few days and considered all the different viewpoints. Then I stepped back and made a decision. Here is the final piece.

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It wasn’t easy to decide. But, in the end, I decided to go with the version that best caught what attracted me to taking the original photo – the flow of the water around the two rocks.

Of course, now I have to come up with a title! Any thoughts on that are very welcome!  🙂

Linking to Off the Wall, Friday with Nina Marie Sayre so please check out what other artists have been doing.

A Different Kind of Week

It has been an off beat week in my life. I have been out west basically in a holding pattern awaiting my spouse’s arrival to finalize plans for our second home in Washington State. I have spent the time catching up on my stitching studies with Karen Ruane in her class, Swathed in Stitch. Karen shares videos several times a week where you act as a ‘fly on the wall’ as she works away on her own projects. I find it a great way to learn from a true artist. Karen also writes a blog about her work and posts almost daily. You can see the artistry of her stitching in this latest post. I am continually amazed at the delicacy of her work and its elegant beauty.

I am afraid that my own stitching this week has taken a back burner to another project I have gotten involved in. I have been working on that wrapping cloth which focuses upon a composition of men’s handkerchiefs juxtaposed with feminine lace and other bits. I am in the midst of stitching the hankies to a white Kona cloth backing that I will eventually embellish. Here is a quick glimpse at the project.

Handkerchief wrapping cloth

However, most of my time has been spent preparing a website for publication for a charity organization that I have been involved with for many years. Our work is in India with the poorest of the poor. Our current website is sadly out of date and since we rely upon volunteer help for most of our activities, it has taken a long time to get a new website up and running. I became involved in our efforts late last year and hope to be able to share the new website by spring.

This past week I have been going through many old photos from trips I have made over the years to one of the areas where we work. A few of my favorites are of the fishermen in the Alleppey area of India. The fisher folk go out in huge boats similar to those used by generations before.

fishing-boat-edit

Here is a scene on one of the beaches after the men return and the daily catch is laid out to dry.

fishboatsand-catch

Unfortunately, since the tsunami many years ago, catches have been down and fishing no longer provides adequately for families.

Here is one more of some other boats along the shore and baskets waiting to be loaded with the daily catch and taken to market.

boats

Hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into daily life out on the shores of the Arabian Sea. It is so easy to get caught up in our own lives and forget that we are but one drop in the sea of humanity that populates this globe.

 

A Pin Pillow

Another finished project in my studies with Karen Ruane! I have been in Karen’s class, Simply Stitch 5, for five weeks. If you have been following me for a bit, you know that in Karen’s classes you are a ‘fly on the wall’, watching her work while stitching your own projects. Karen has been working quite a bit with ‘bling’ in this class. She chose a pin pillow as a project and I decided one could never have too many pin pillows so I followed along. It gave me a chance to use some tiny mirrors I had picked up at a sale in our quilt club and to play with ‘gimp’ – a shiny cord that I had seen many times but never used in a stitching project.

The result of all this play was a quite delicate pin cushion. Here are a few views of it.

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The base fabric is a silk charmeuse with an overlay of lace pieces and, of course, hand embellishment. In addition to the gimp and the mirrors, there a few buttons I had collected and some beads. It is really quite luxurious. Karen made a point to urge us all to use our pillows so we could enjoy them on a daily basis. There is the definite urge to put things away as they are ‘too nice’ to use. I am quite sure that as I quilt and stitch each day and have it in view, I will have one more reason to smile!

Linking to Nine Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

 

As the World Turns

Nothing is worth more than this day.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Life has been spinning a bit more than usual the past few weeks. After a half month out west, I am now back in upstate New York. While out west, we purchased some land and began moving forward on a second home near our daughter and her family. Here is a quick peak at our new acquisition:

forest

My husband, Jerry, is standing by the start of the pine forest.

Since I have been back home, I have started up some new work. My current project is a small art quilt that will serve as a memory of my trip to Louisburgh, Ireland. I thought it might be fun to show the progress.

Pink house - 1

Not very exciting but you have to start somewhere! This will eventually be a pink house along one of the two main streets in Louisburgh. During the week, it did grow a bit.  🙂

Pink House #2

Perhaps this begins to make some more sense? You can see that I am building the quilt on a piece of muslin. I have made it quite large as I have dreams of creating an unusual border – we will see how that materializes as the quilt grows.

Pink House #3

In this photo I have started to add in some forms for trees. I am building from the back forward. It doesn’t look very straight as I am adding allowances to each of the sides and not being very exact on that process.  My next step will be to add roofs, gutters, windows, doors and trim. Hope to be able to share those next week.

The rest of my creative time this past week has been devoted to my work for Simply Stitch 5 with Karen Ruanne.  I have decided to take all those handkerchiefs that I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago and create a quilt. That will be a long term project for me with lots of hand-stitching! I just added a few doilies I collected over the years in travel to another handkerchief.

doilies

Life in the coming year promises to be full. I suspect I will be constantly reminding myself to take one day at a time and most definitely to stay present and appreciate the day I am in!

Linking to Off the Wall Friday, so please check out what other artists are writing about this week as well.