Always Something to Learn……

It’s all in the journey,
not the destination.

Among my projects this week were more dye work and piecing a quilt. Both reminded me of the never-ending voyage of learning that we are on through life.

In the piecing of my quilt from Sandy Turner’s workshop, I learned something about one of Bernina’s feet that I never quite grasped before…..I have had the 34D as long as I have owned my machine but it was in piecing my “Wildlife” quilt that I really ‘discovered’ those tiny red lines.


Piecing the Birds in the Air blocks required a certain amount of precision and I was delighted to learn that if I began with horizontal lines in line with the top of the fabric and the edge indented to the inside of the right horizontal line, I was usually in a perfect starting position. Further, I could simply keep the edge of the fabric in line with that inside right horizontal line and have a great 1/4″ seam. Previously, I had been focusing on keeping my fabric lined up with the 1/4″ line on my foot plate. This simple discovery on my part increased my precision dramatically and also my speed. Yay! As a result, ‘Wildlife” is now pieced and awaiting a decision on a backing.


I am nearing completion of the Basic Dyeing for Quilters class of Elizabeth Barton. I have gotten a tremendous amount out of the class and am truly appreciative of Elizabeth’s efforts to create a user-friendly guide for those wishing to learn more about dyeing fabrics. I continued to explore over-Dyeing this week with two objectives. To explore the range of changes when one over-dyed with different colors, and to create some less intense lighter fabrics. I chose to work from a base of Basic Blue and overdye with a number of other dyes we used in the class. Much to my delight, my results achieved my goals!


Left to right: Basic blue, overdyes of turquoise,fuchsia,orange,black, yellow.

It has been a good week…more to look forward to next week. I am very aware that I have the entire issue of photography to address. Next week? We will see.

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

The Satisfaction of Completion

Nothing nicer than crossing something off a list .

The longer I work on a project, the more clutter becomes associated with it. I do try to ‘put things back where they came from’ as I work through phases but it always seems that there are pieces of fabric, notes, sewing tools that remain out for easy access. So, the day when I can finally clear an area of all that has accumulated always bring a certain air of accomplishment.

This week two projects reached that point:

  • A wall hanging for my soon-to-be born granddaughter. It began as a ‘sketch’ created by my already born granddaughter on my design wall. She assembled pieces of fabric into a design of her choosing. (She had just watched a Harry Potter movie the day before and sounded like she was drawing some inspiration from it.)
    I then fused the pieces to a background and embellished on her theme. The colors came from the quilt already completed for the new baby. The photo below lacks the binding but you get the general idea.
  • My other completion I am particularly pleased with – my SAQA auction  quilt. Last year I was unable to contribute a donation due to our house construction and so I was determined to have something prepared for this year. The opening date for submissions is weeks away so I am really ahead of the game.


I also returned to work on my dyeing class this week. I did a series to learn about creating shades from a base color by varying the amount of black dye. I worked from a turquoise base.


I also played with creating neutrals and browns.


And compared the results of overdyeing some yellow fabric alternatively with fuchsia and turquoise.


With so much accomplished this week, I hope next week will be as productive!

Linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.


Tip of the Iceberg


I describe the design process as like the tip of the iceberg.
What you don’t see is the long haul: all the endless auditing and things like that.
Norman Foster

This week was definitely not about the tip of the iceberg! Moving forward as an artist and in a new studio requires much behind the scene work and I moved forward on several fronts.

First, I took some steps this week towards being able to photograph my works in my new studio. Doing my own photography has been a goal for a long time. Now that I am across country from my favorite photographer and have many hand-stitched works that I eventually want to add to my online gallery, I decided it was time to take action. That required much research and then some online ordering to begin to assemble the necessary equipment. One of the most helpful sites that I found on the website was Shoot That Quilt, co-authored by my own web-master, Holly Knott. If you would like to take a peak at what she has written, click here.

I also began to focus more on documenting the work in the Basic Dyeing for Quilters class that I have been participating in through Academy of Quilting. (Here is a listing for the next session of the class.) This week we completed dyeing work on a reference color wheel. Here is how mine turned out:


One of the most entertaining features of this class has been discovering what dyed pieces actually looked like after all processing. I was surprised but very pleased by the mysterious results of my efforts to dye a piece of Kona cotton purple.


The fabric on the left is supposed to be a fairly solid purple. The one on the right is my blue-purple. The two component dye solutions that were used for these pieces did not mix well, particularly in the case of the purple. Perhaps it was the temperature of my warm water? I don’t know and may experiment further in the coming weeks.

It was clear though that I will be dyeing explorations of the class long after it concludes. And so, I am taking the time to process and record notes as I go along. I also am stretching out the dyeing for a more relaxed schedule that works better with other demands on my time. It all is quite a bit of fun and I am looking forward to the next class where I am told we will discuss over-dyeing.

Winter Scene Update

I did move forward some more with my Winter Scene piece. It is now quilted and awaiting a binding. Here is a quick glimpse at how it evolved.


And, I continued to work on my latest hand-stitching project. It should be completed by next week.  I should also have a report by then on a workshop by Sandy Turner that I am enrolled in. It looked like a fun project and a way to meet some quilters in our new second home area.

By the way, the photo of Antarctica above is one of mine from our trip there several years ago. That trip continues to rank as one of the most memorable that I have ever taken. Everything you read about the out-of-this-world feeing of Antarctica is true. Gliding in ice flows, past huge icebergs, and among mammoth glaciers is a great reminder of how small we are in this universe – a great wake-up call to the ego, and totally inspirational for the artist!

As always, linking to Off the Wall Friday. Check out what others have been up to!

Clearing the Wall

Happiness is not a matter of intensity
but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony.
Thomas Merton


My design wall reminds me of the ocean waves on the sand – it fills and then empties. Towards the end of this week, a rather chaotic wall was beginning to reflect closure on some projects and beginnings on others – a good place to be in, a nice rhythm.


A good deal of this week was devoted to completing my daughter’s baby quilt. The photo below shows a quilted but not yet bound version. I am happy to report that said quilt is now bound and awaiting use.


My dyeing class continued and I opted for a measured approach to week two. We were supposed to try some deep water bucket dyeing versus the low water immersion technique of the week before. As I studied the material, I realized that the likelihood of my using the deep water technique was minimal and that the dilutive approach to dyeing was not as straight forward in measuring as the additive approach. Since my objective in the class was to understand the dyeing process better and become comfortable with some ‘simple’ processes for dyeing small amounts of cloth, I opted to focus my actual dyeing on continuing with the additive process. I added three additional colors to my experimentation this week.


While all these decisions meant less actual time dyeing, I felt like I was immersing myself in the area that would really benefit me in the long run and allow me to think it through more fully while I had the benefit of an excellent instructor.

While the baby quilt definitely absorbed the most time this past week, my winter scene also moved forward. I added the snow to the trees and completed fusing the lower portion of the piece. The photo below shows the work ready for quilting. I intend to trim both sides for a more rectangular finish but felt that was best done after quilting. My goal for next week is to actually complete the quilting!


My hand stitching continued, primarily in the evenings and I ordered a book of transfer letters that I hope will move me forward with my Eiffel piece. With luck, I will report more on those next week. For now, I will link to Off the Wall Friday and wish everyone fun in their own ventures.

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.


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:


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.


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… 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.  🙂


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.


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


Forging Ahead with a Smile

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



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:



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.


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!