Best Laid Plans…

It is good to have a plan….
but always follow your heart!

Yesterday started as a fairly normal day and I expected to move forward on a cloth page I have been working on the past two weeks for my Stitch Along class with Karen Ruane. But Thursdays are “late arrival” days for my seven-year-0ld granddaughter’s elementary school and her Mom drops her off to have breakfast with me and I take her to school. Judy Cate arrived carrying her little faithful stuffed animal, Raven. She reported that he was in real need of a bow tie and could I help. How could I say ‘no’ to such a request! ūüôā

As we enjoyed our breakfast, we searched the web for patterns for bow tie pattern for doll. We found a free one, picked out appropriate fabric from my stash, and I agreed to have Raven outfitted by the time Judy Cate returned from school. Needless to say, the rest of my day got rearranged a bit with a very happy result.

Happy puppy

The blog where I found the pattern was Shiny Happy World. It is a blog by Wendi Gratz. She lives in North Caroline and, according to her bio, has chosen to create “sewing, quilting and embroidery patterns especially for beginners”. If the bow tie pattern I used is typical, then Wendi is a very gifted designer. I have followed a lot of patterns in my years of sewing and this was one of the best written. I particularly loved her side comments on some short cuts that were possible. They were the sort of ones that I would instinctively explore in doing any pattern and it was great to read that she used them too and they were okay. Wendi has many free patterns on her website for quilting, crochet, felting, embroidery and sewing. Where you need a pattern or not, it is worth checking the pictorial listing out as they will make you smile.

Raven went home with three bow ties made in less than an hour with Wendi’s pattern. I spent the rest of the day in gratitude that I am at a point in my life where I can drop other activities and doing something that I know will make a grandchild smile.

More on my other projects next week….for now I am linking to Nine Marie’s Off the Wall Friday blog……

Mission Accomplished

Enjoy the satisfaction that comes from doing little things well.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

It is an extremely nice feeling to start from a gathering of materials that attracted you and wind up with a finished project. I mentioned in my last post that I rarely purchase fabric these days as I have a stash to draw upon. There must be something truly unique about some fabric, or even buttons, or ribbons — anything that I might use in my art – before I will buy it.

Last fall I started a small grouping of purchases from trips I had made to the Manhattan garment district, upstate NY and Sedona AZ during 2018. I had no plan initially for them, but something about them created a feeling that resonated with me. This year, in my stitching group with Karen Ruane, that pile started beckoning to me to let them join in my play.

First I created a suffolk puff from a Japanese print fabric I had found in Manhattan. Then, I began playing with some bullion knots around cording in another piece of fabric………ribbon and buttons begged to be included in my design process. ūüôā

As time progressed, a plan for a bag developed and I began stitching in earnest.

This week I finished my bag. Here are two views of it.

View One
View 2

I plan to use my new bag in my studio for other special items that I have brought back from trips. In that way, it will serve a number of purposes, both reminding me of places I visited, and reminding me of that sense of satisfaction from following through from an idea to a final product. In that way, I suspect it will continue to encourage me to follow through in 2019 with other ideas and projects that speak to me, whatever they may be.

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

Letting Go

Life is either a great adventure or nothing.
Helen Keller

Last week I shared with you the beginnings of my first ledger page for my online class, Ledgers-A Record of Stitch, with Karen Ruane. I had a design that I was pretty comfortable with:

This week I planned to finish up the page and move on with other projects. As I completed the French Knots on each of my crosses, I focused more and more on the circular portion of the design. My original ideas of simply stitching the two circular outlines just didn’t excite me any more. So, I began looking at what other fibers I might have in my studio that I could use.

One thing led to another and as you can see from the photo below, where I wound up with quite a ways from where I started. ūüôā

My new design is much more vibrant and mysterious. I continued to explore color balance and the impact of differing proportions on composition but I gave myself permission to just let go and play. The unstructured, scattered nature of the yarn that I crocheted together to meld the blue and black carries the free form of the organic gatherings of French Knots to a more extreme form.

I left the little black circle in the lower left as information on another color balance example as this is for a ledger of design ideas. In one sense the little circle is a bit out of place. In another, it fits as it develops the progression of darkness through color proportion from the small crosses to the large circle to a final extreme expression.

You might wonder what might have been influencing me as I was working on this composition. I suspect it is the Harry Potter series where I am currently in Harry¬†Potter¬†and¬†the¬†Goblet¬†of¬†Fire.¬† Twill be interesting where my reading takes me next! ūüôā

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

The Delights of Stitching

It is our choices that show what we truly are,
far more than our abilities.
Dumbledore

My grandchildren are reading the Harry Potter series. (More accurately their parents are reading it to them each evening.) I had read the series when it was published years ago but decided I had better brush up on the characters so I could discuss them with our seven year old. I really am enjoying the escape from current events that the books now offer. The above quote jumped out at me as I was reading and I had to share it. I think it rang true for me for my life overall.

Having finished True¬†Power¬†last¬†week,¬†I¬†have refocused on my adventures with Karen Ruane. I have been following along with her and my compatriots in the Stitch Along class for six months now – that hardly seems possible as time flies in the class. I have continued to play with adorning vintage children’s dresses and now have begun what will be a cloth book of embroidery ideas for future projects. I simply love that we are free to do as we wish when we follow Karen. If an idea she is exploring resonates with us, we can try it; if not, then we can focus on what has caught our eye.

I have finally finished one dress that I suspect will find a home eventually with my youngest granddaughter as she appears to have inherited my love of dolls. I think you will recognize some of the adornments from an earlier fall post:

My cloth book is just beginning but I have put together the ‘front’ side of what will be one page in the book. It allowed me to play with some exquisite lace I picked up several years ago in the garment district of New York and to explore the rich effect created making suffolk puffs with silk.

Since I love the community of stitchers that play along with Karen, I have just joined another of her groups – Ledgers¬†–¬†A¬†Record¬†of¬†Stitch.¬†Here the focus will be upon creating a paper ledger of color studies and design options drawn from items that have caught our eye – whether photos, embroideries, really anything that we wish.

For my first ledger page, I chose an embroidery that I received from a group of women who stitch in their villages in Afghanistan. The color choices really appealed to me.

I am now working on a page where I am using those colors and expanding from my chosen ‘resource’ to create my own designs. It is fun to stitch on paper for a change! As you can see, I am just beginning my stitching process.

As you can see Karen’s classes definitely can keep you busy! Of course, I am also thinking about my next quilt projects — to be shared as they materialize. ūüôā

Linking with NineMarie’s Off the Wall Friday blog for more inspirational ideas.

Taking Stitch to Cloth and Paper

What do I need to Learn Here?
Thomas Crum

For many years, I worked with Thomas Crum as we introduced people to what we called the Discovery Model. The premise is that as long as the questions you ask yourself in life are along the lines of “What do I need to say or do to be right?” you are not operating at your full potential. Indeed, a look at the truly great inventors over time revealed that their frame of reference in trying new ideas as setbacks and failures occurred was more typically the question, “What do I need to learn here?”

As many of you are aware, I have been exploring the art of hand stitching with Karen Ruane for a number of years…what began as an interest in learning hand embroidery has grown to an exploration of expression using stitch on both fabric and paper.

The start of my current project was innocent enough. I was interested in creating a small art quilt from a glacier photo taken on a trip to Alaska last summer. Initially I thought I would follow my typical process of drafting a sketch from a photo, fusing various fabrics to muslin to create a base and then free motion quilting to complete the art quilt. It has been a bit since I had followed that model but it had always satisfied me before.

An interesting thing though happened as I began to work on a muslin base trying out various fabrics. Nothing satisfied me. The more I searched for fabrics, the less pleased I was. I finally realized that some paper I had collected to use in projects with Karen was pretty close to what I wanted. It was time to let go of the traditional and come from discovery!

I began constructing a base of fabric and possible papers for my scene:

In the above photo, I found that a matte frame really helped give me a sense of direction. The central portions in the scene are all layers of paper while the sky and water are fabric.

I wisely did not permanently attach anything to my muslin base. The more I looked at the scene I realized that while it was a fair representation perhaps of the photo I had chosen as a base, it wasn’t what had stood out for me as I remembered our trip. We saw many glaciers in varying light and, as you would expect, varying colors of both ice and water. The glaciers as a whole left us humbled by the power and raw strength of nature that created and moved them. I realized that I needed to create an art work that captured what spoke to my heart as I had gazed at all of them rather than concern myself with reproducing a specific photo.

Once I accepted that reality, I really began to make progress with my piece. I changed some of both the fabric and paper layers and added some dabs of paint.

From there I quickly began experimenting with stitch on the glaciers. I found that a combination of seed stitch and french knot offered the effect I wanted.

This piece is very much still in progress. I currently am playing with stitch for the water. In my earlier stitching stages, I worked without a batting layer as I didn’t feel it was needed and I had given myself permission to create without being bound by the current day definitions of an ‘art quilt’. As I played with possibilities for the water on test pieces, I concluded that I will now add a batting layer to the piece as I like the textural effect the batting lends to the hand stitching for the water.

Bullion loops and running stitch

Over the coming weeks, I will be stitching in the water and then exploring how to interpret the mountains and sky. Promise an update soon!

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

Time Flies

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
Albert Camus

The month of September seemed to fly by as I followed through on my new classes. Combined with a quick trip to New York, I have most definitely been busy.

My “Stitch Along” class with Karen Ruane thankfully has a 12 month timeline. I used the class as an excuse to wander the Garment District while in New York City to gather some materials to use in the class. In my spare time, I have been playing with some samples of lace and stitch and slowly developing a theme for the year.

The Visual Design workshop with SAQA is a much shorter commitment. I am in the second component of the workshop, Principles of Design, the first two weeks being devoted to Elements of Design. Each week is rich with resources through video interviews, some video chats, and links to many articles. There are no assignments as such. I have enjoyed the review of design principles. One immediate application has been in reviewing my photos from our Alaska trip. I have appreciated a bit more why my eye is drawn to particular scenes and why in culling through hundreds of photos, I have selected a few to print and perhaps use eventually in some art works.

Here are two examples where line and shape were important.

Zodiacs along the cliffs near the Dawes glacier.

Early morn view from our boat approaching LeConte Bay.

Looking forward to learning more as I continue exploring the wonderful world of fiber.

Linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday blog for more inspiration from other fiber artists.

Looking Towards Fall

To every season there is a purpose.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

The temperatures are dropping at bit and there is even the mention of showers in our forecasts…..stores are stocking Halloween decorations (at least it is not Christmas). Hints of fall are everywhere.

This summer has been a time of enjoying grandkids, recharging energy and nurturing spirit. Earlier this month, I spent a week in the glaciers and forests of southeastern Alaska (photos will follow as I am still sorting!) but even before that trip, I knew my self-imposed sabbatical from “serious” art projects was working. When I returned from Alaska, there on my design wall was ¬†a quilt top with batting and backing ready for quilting…… the first art quilt I have created in quite a bit with an eye to entering in some Calls for Entry.¬†Refreshed and inspired from my travels, I set to free motion quilting my work. With my Bernina newly tuned up, the quilting went amazingly smoothly. For most of the stitching time, I listened to my favorite cellist, Zuill Bailey, on my new Sonos system and just enjoyed being back in the interpretative process that free motion quilting is for me.

Since the quilt will be submitted to a call this fall, I can’t share the results of my efforts in full, but here is a tiny peak.¬† ūüôā¬†

Now with fall approaching, I have enrolled in several exciting opportunities to continue to feed my creative spirit :

My friend, Karen Ruane, is offering ¬†a new 12 month “Stitch Along.” ¬†I have so enjoyed my studies with Karen and the community of ‘stitchers’ around the world who participate in her sessions. This “Stitch Along” is paced in a way that I can easily work on more art quilts that I am sure will emerge for my Ice Worlds series.

Here is Karen’s description of the class:

Join me for 12 months of creativity, a unique fly on the wall experience. Observe my process, my day to day, my working practice over a full year. Who knows what will crop up, what will inspire and develop over this programme. We begin with a blank page of time and fill that page, that time developing embroidered works on paper and fabric. There may be artist books, there may be delicately embroidered laces along with decorative silk surfaces. There will definitely be buttons, ribbons, sequins, beads and all manner of added titivation.

Isn’t that enticing? If you are interested in joining me in a fun experience, you can sign up ¬†on Karen’s website.

I have also signed up for the SAQA Seminar ¬†2018: Visual Design. ¬†The seminar will cover four units: elements, principles, process, and evaluation with new material released every two ¬†weeks. You have to be a SAQA member to participate, but there is no added fee for the course which promises “access to articles, tutorials, book reviews, links to inspirational resources as well as video conversations with leading artists in the art quilt field.” There will also be a Facebook group for participants with opportunities to participate in weekly live video chats.If you are a SAQA member, or thinking of joining, the seminar begins September 10. Registration information can be found on the SAQA website.

So, it looks like I am set for the coming months stitch-wise. And, now, I must get back to sorting through all those photographs I took in Alaska! If you would like to take a peek at what other quilters are up to, here is a link to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday blog.

Keeping Focus

True power is
energy moving freely
towards a vision.

June has sped by in a flash in many ways. Stitching, quilting, travels, and a bit of illness all contributed to an upside down month. ūüôā

If there was any doubt that we are living in a relatively rural area, we need simply to look out our windows. Earlier this month, a patch of grass outside my studio provided a place for an afternoon rest for this grouping.

And, now as July approaches, we are seeing the first of this year’s turkey hatchlings. We will be watching them grow through till fall if past summers are any prediction.

I did take time off from wildlife viewing for a quick trip back to NY state. I found a few minutes to take advantage of the antique mall near our Victor house and search for some laces, etc. for my hand stitching. These are becoming more and more difficult to find it seems. Last visit I was not very successful, this time was better.

Inbetween trips and wildlife viewing, I continued to work through Karen Ruane‘s¬†Create and Embellish¬†class. This surface continues to fascinate every time I pick it up to work on it more.

I also finally finished a pouch I had been making for the past few months from some samples I received from one of my favorite stores, French General.

And, I felt compelled to continue creating quilts for Quilts Beyond Borders. I call this one “Upside Down World.”¬†My intention was to reflect the upheaval globally that refugees face as they are forced to leave homelands and search for new lives. What you might expect to be a predictable quilt layout surprises with an ‘upside down’ turn to the pattern.

I hope that this posts finds you continuing to find a path of positive movement in your life despite the chaos that may be happening around you.

Appreciating Life

Remember to
stay centered

in the moment!

These are the beautiful days here in Spokane where everyone wants to just be outside. The Spokane river is flowing rapidly, the skies are clear, and the temperatures are perfect for a walk or run…..

May has been a busy month. I flew off for a quick trip to visit family near Sedona and, as always, was enthralled with the red rock vistas.

Back in my studio, I completed one fairly simple quilt for Quilts Beyond Borders that I had mentioned in my last post.

I have another top on my design wall……..

This top grew from a 16″ square that I had made many years ago…..I am gradually using my stash to create these QBB quilts, finding the challenge a fun design effort. When exactly this top will get quilted remains up in the air. There are some very wonderful distractions whom I look forward to playing with everyday!

 

I have also continued creating hand embroidery surfaces with Karen Ruane in her latest class,¬†Create and Embellish. Here are a couple of my favorites. I don’t have a plan yet on how I will use them, I am really just enjoying the almost zen feeling of creating them!

The coming month promises to busy too – I will be fitting in stitching around some more travel, a bit of construction on our property, and plenty of fun time with the grandchildren…..for now I will leave you with a bit of wisdom on life from the perspective of ¬†my six-year-old granddaughter.¬† ūüôā

Time Passes……..

The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.
Michael Althsuler

Since I last posted I have spent some wonderful time in Hawaii, begun another quilt for Quilts Beyond Borders, and continued my hand stitching adventures.

The place where we normally stay in Maui is along the coastline where some of Hawaii’s Green Sea Turtles make their home. One of my delights on this past trip was a daily conversation with some of these creatures who liked to rest on a small stretch of sand near us. They are quite wise.¬† ūüėČ

My latest quilt for Quilts Beyond Borders is in process. I am pleased that I devised a way to use some left over pieces from a past project in creating this quilt. I had a number of strips that I had previously sewn together and stored away. I was able to blend them with fat quarter thirds to create a simple but attractive design.The pattern came from a post on June 24, 2014 of the Fort Worth Fabric Studio Blog. When I finish quilting my piece I will be sure to share.

As I mentioned in my last post, I participated in Karen Ruane’s Embroidery School 2018 this winter. The online class has finished and I am currently creating a cloth book of my samples. Each sample has its own page and I am really loving the feel of each page. Hope to have it completed in the next month.

Pages for my sample book

I am just starting up another of Karen’s classes, Create and Embellish¬†¬†where we will be creating our own cloth surfaces and then hand embellishing. Here is a sample of my first surface that I will be working on. It should be an adventure as we proceed! By the Way, if you are interested in listening to Karen discuss her work, there is a podcast interview with her here.

 

As I move forward with my WIPs, spring is making its presence felt here in Eastern Washington. Each day the temperature warms more. Our yard is always filled with wildlife and they are all celebrating the end of winter. I am totally enjoying their antics. Just yesterday, I caught this photo of a wild turkey in full glory.

I am looking forward to more time outdoors along with more quilting and hand-stitching in the coming weeks. I will be back to share again. In the meantime, I am linking with Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday so you can see what other fiber artists are exploring. She has some great suggestions for organizing if you are in the spring cleaning mood.

 

It’s Been Awhile

Every great dream begins with a dreamer.
Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion
to reach for the stars to change the world.

Harriet Tubman

I have been absent from my blog for over a month. When I went to write a post in early February, I discovered that I was unable to back up my site. I am not sure what happened but, through testing, I could determine that it definitely related to my server at MacHighway.  I have been a customer there for many years and they have always been helpful when occasionally there has been an issue of some sort. This time, though, the problem was not simple. The case kept getting bumped up in the organization and finally, this past week there was resolution. It took patience on my part and research on theirs but I am grateful the problem was resolved. I did not really want to move my site and all that would have been entailed!

Just because I was off line did not mean that I was away from my studio! One project that was completed was a second quilt for Quilt Beyond Borders.

The main fabric is some Yukata cotton I bought from Patricia Belyea of Okan Arts when I took a workshop from her last fall . The intensity of the flowers against the geometric background caught my eye.

I played with the angles a bit to divide up the fabric into four quarters and used those angles for a simple quilting pattern.

While I was off line from my blog, I also spent a good deal of my free time on hand stitching. I have been in an online class with Karen Ruane called Embroidery School 2018. We have been making many samples of stitches and that has been great fun.

Each sample gets enclosed within a border, labeled, and will ultimately be gathered into a cloth book of my making that I will have for reference.

I have also been working with some random bits that have been collecting in my studio – something about the color red attracted me to them initially.

I wanted to explore some of the stitches I was learning in Karen’s class a bit more and decided to build towards a pin pillow……….

As my play continued, the pin pillow morphed into components for a possible pouch for my growing collection of fabric bits and pieces. These components currently reside on my design wall where the proposed back of the pouch patiently waits for attention.

And so, while I have been silent on the web, I have been busy. You will notice, I have no art quilts above in this post. I have had to patient with myself these few months.¬†Creating quilts for QBB is a priority I have set for myself for 2018. It is one small way in which I feel that I can make a difference in this crazy world. The quilts go to children in need, many in refugee camps. ¬†Alternatively, hand stitching offers me an escape into whimsy and a meditative process that, along with my beautiful grandchildren, allows me to keep a positive mind. For a bit, I wondered if I would ever make another art quilt…….it is only in the past few weeks that I have begun to feel my way back into the world of design. I sketched quite a few ideas while I was preparing for Patricia Belyea’s class. They have sat waiting and now, finally, I have begun to play with an idea I sketched and some fabrics I had purchased last fall. My other projects have had to move over a bit on my design wall to make way for a possible art quilt. Where will it go? We will have to see!

Linking up to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday blog so you can check out what others have been doing this week.¬† ūüôā

The Places We Go

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
Dr. Seuss

The past month has been a whirlwind of travel and play.

Early in November I was back at our home in Victor, NY and we discovered the Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame was giving a concert. If you ever have a chance to attend one of Peter’s concerts, do go. His music is timeless, his performance endearing, and his words uplifting. Towards the end of the concert, all ‘children’ were invited on stage to sing along to Puff the¬†Magic Dragon……..you can catch a glimpse of me in the rear to the left of a red checked shirt. ūüôā

Next we were on to red rock country in northern Arizona to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 100th birthday. ‘Lovey’ is an amazing woman who still volunteers at the local high school.

Jerry and Mom

In the midst of all these travels, I have been keeping up with my fiber art….a quilt went out to Quilts Beyond Borders before I left:

I have continued to play with the online activities of Karen Ruane. She currently has two groups running ¬†‚Äď a twelve month course in creating Artist Books and a short course on creating projects from handkerchiefs. I am participating in both of these and was able to carry along a needle case project to stitch away on in my down time.

Needle case inside

Needle case front

Composition for page in artist book

I also was honored to have two of my “ice” quilts included in the November/December issue of Machine Quilting.

And so, November ends with my studio filled with holiday projects and my heart filled with gratitude at the life I have been given.

The Cloth Shop

I am curious, I love making discoveries,
travelling, speaking with people, go shopping.
Maria Grazia Cucinotta

Another highlight of my recent travels was a few days in Dublin where I got to visit The Cloth Shop. The shop was founded in 2010 by mother and daughter,¬†Deirdre and Sin√©ad. I was lucky enough to meet¬†Sin√©ad on my visits. She is a totally delightful hostess.I first popped in to¬†see what generally was available and found an exquisite selection of fabrics ‚Äď but, more than that, what made me definitely plan to return was how welcome I was made to feel. I explained that I was just window shopping but it didn’t matter. They answered questions and gave me a card to be sure I could find them again. I did return and again, they were incredibly helpful. Sin√©ad and I¬†chatted for quite a bit as she was as interested in my art as I was in their cloth. As weeks have passed, I have realized that ¬†my time in the store is one of my fondest memories of Dublin.

I was particularly looking for cloth for my embroidery classes with Karen Ruane. Karen had given me The Cloth as a possible source of Liberty fabric in Dublin. And, wow, did they have Liberty cloth. One of a handful of worldwide dealers who receive liberty fabrics as they are first issued, the selection at The Cloth was amazing. I was delighted that when shopping in person you can buy as little as 1/4 metre and so I chose a number of cottons from the fall line.

What I didn’t expect were the silk Liberty fabrics available. Of course, I had to try a few of those too. ūüôā

The Cloth offers many more fabrics beyond Liberty. They have beautiful Irish tweed and Irish linen, all dyed and woven locally, as well as  cashmeres from Italy, fine bead work from India and exquisite velvet and  lace. I saw some breathtaking modern Irish lace that I dream of someday going back to purchase.

If you have a moment, it is inspiring to browse their website, even better, if you happen to be in Dublin, check them out in person. You will definitely receive a very warm welcome.

 

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! ūüôā

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 Рthe 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.

img_0697My beautiful grandkids

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 appliqu√© 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.¬† ūüôā

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  Рa 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!¬†ūüėą ¬†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 Рa 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.¬† ūüôā

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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!