Monday, January 30, 2012

clean house, clean clothes and a little play time

I didn't spend a minute in my studio yesterday and only a bit more than a minute today. When Gord is home and we can get out, that is usually my priority since he works all week.
Before we went for breakfast at our favorite restaurant, the Nectar, we took a little drive over to the mouth of the Nepisiquit River where there are some smelt fishing huts. I keep taking pictures in case I might want to draw them sometime. I have a long list.

Afterwards we went snowshoeing and then out to visit the in laws, so that was yesterday. I've wandered into the studio a couple of times to audition fabric for the borders on my cosmos piece. I've sewn 3 borders on and I've auditioned a couple of fabrics for the next one. The problem is I can't even decide on the orientation of the piece. That is, should it be a hanging or should I make it as a table topper? As a hanging I would make it longer and as a table topper, I would make it wider. Decisions, decisions. Now that I see it pictured here, I believe I'll go with choice # one. It helps to see it on the screen.

So I'm distracting myself with something else. Last year, I found a couple of websites showing how to cut snowflakes and I cut a few for my window. Here is one by Martha Stewart. Ever since I  did my piece with the snow dyeing, I've been thinking about how I could incorporate them into it. After I did my bit of Monday housework this morning, and hung out a load clothes (last year by this time the clothes were not able to clear the snow), I experimented with cutting a few snowflakes.

While trying to figure out how I could transfer the designs to the fabric, I remembered the discharge paste that I bought last year. I had cut the first one from copy paper when I thought of using freezer paper so I could iron it on. I simply sprayed the copy paper one with a bit of basting spray and applied them to the fabric. Then with a sponge brush, I dabbed on the discharge paste, to which I added a few drops of  Golden fluid acrylic, titanium white..

Here it is dried with the paper removed, not very bright.

This is after ironing, quite a difference!

Friday, January 27, 2012

snowfall outside, sewing inside

I got my errands and my lunch with my Friday friends done and made it home before the snow started. We are expecting a hefty snowfall up here in northern New Brunswick to-night. I am snugly set up  in my studio watching the snow falling as I work on my cosmos piece. It is falling more thickly now than it was in this photo. That odd looking bag is a bird seed sock. I really enjoy it when the goldfinches decide to use it.

I've been working for the last hour and a half finishing up 3 purple flowers done with the bobbin thread and also the centers of the flowers. I discovered that if you wrap the bobbin thread and the top thread around your fingers when you begin stitching, that it helps to avoid that  little nest you get on the back when you start out. Of course with the bobbin work it would show on the front.

Here you can see the threads which I lateer diligently sewed through to the back.

I added a little pearlescent purple paint to the petals of the purole flowers.

I've had to take a break because I must decide which fabrics to use in the borders and in what order as it is my next step before I start quilting the piece. I'm thinking it might be good as either a wall  hanging or a table topper, so I have to keep that in mind. I was trying to decide between the purple or the pink as a narrow border but I think I may use both sort of log cabin like around teh center.

I thought you might like to see my finished scrappy socks. They don't match perfectly because one of the yarns was a hand dye, impossible to match.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


I  have an article published in the Feb/March issue of Quilting Arts magazine!!! I just received my copies in the mail today and I am so excited. It is my first time ever.

I hope you'll forgive me if I don't post any sewing pictures. I'm going for a hair cut as I'm looking rather shabby; I must keep up with the celebrity image, ha, ha.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

a little painting and thread work

I had my swim this morning and spent my time thinking about how I would do the piece that I mono printed last week. While I'm stalled on my birches piece (I'm musing about what I will do next with it), I decided I needed something fresh. What better than some pretty summer flowers? Cosmos is one of my favorite. The colors are so pretty and they are so delicate with such lacy foliage.

Along with my cup of tea, I did a little bit of shading on the flowers with Neocolor II crayons and a paint brush. Then I ironed it and added some stiff interfacing to the back to get ready for some thread painting. I put a watercolor sketch that I did a couple of years ago beside me at the machine so I can refer to it. I started with pink silk thread to outline the flowers.

Next, I added some green for stems and leaves. I stopped here to sew in a bunch of ends. There seem to be mixed opinions on this. some simply over sew a bit at the beginning and end and clip the threads, others sew the ends to the back. I used to use the clip technique, but I've been wondering if it might be better to darn them all in on the back. it's time consuming though.

Before I stopped for a snack, I wanted to try a bit of bobbin work. I've just recently tried it out and love it! I wound some sparkly purple Candlelight thread onto my bobbin and tried one flower to see what it would be like. (I did do a trail on sample fabric first.) It did leave a little bobble in one spot but I understand that can happen.
And now it's time for another cup of tea before I get supper.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

a good day with friends

I'm still having a low week energy wise which unfortunately also affects my creativity. That's OK, one has to go with the flow.
Today, I planned a hand stitching day with some quilting friends, but the weather did not cooperate. We got freezing rain and sleet in the  night, so the roads were not good and the driveways and parking lots even worse. Two 'town' friends came though, and we sat and stitched for a while and then had lunch. I finished the bindings on a baby quilt and my chickadee wall hanging. It's finally all done.
My friend, Paula sewed the binding onto this baby quilt. Isn't it different? The photo doesn't really do all the black and whites justice. It is actually quite vibrant.

She also just got this one back from the long arm quilters. It is done with the same pattern as the black and white one. It was laid out on the floor and I couldn't quite get it all into the frame.

Coincidentally, the mail man came with a small envelope marked form California, so I told my friend, Anne, to go ahead and open it because I knew it was the house blocks that I won from Love, Laugh, Quilt. She hosted a 'neighborhood block party' in December and drew 3 names to win the blocks. I was lucky to be one. I don't have time right now to put it together, but I do have an idea of what I will do with the blocks. I will make 1 more for nine and then make narrow trees for between the houses horizontally. In between each row I will then do wider 'bricks' to simulate the road.

It is a really fun gift! When I have time I will contact the makers of each block as well.
Here is the bread that I blogged about on Sunday past. I've been baking a small loaf each day. It is very good and even better with this maple syrup that my friend Anne brought me. She and her husband make it form their own little maple syrup operation. It tastes exceptional and I treasure it.
Tomorrow is my swimming day so I'm not what I'll get done after that.I'm kind of stalled on my birch tree project--just not sure where I want to go with it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

slower day

After all my creativity last week, I'm into a bit of a slow down this week. This is normal for me and I've learned not to fight it, to go with the flow. Yesterday, I took it easy and didn't touch my sewing at all. I did make bread though, trying out an artisan bread that I found on line. It was very easy--no kneading. The only thing I did was add about 2 cups of rye flour and 1 cup of whole wheat to replace the white. I didn't take a picture of the finished loaf (too late now) but there is more in the fridge, so I'll try next time.
Tomorrow,I am having some quilting friends over depending on the weather. It's calling for freezing rain.
I did a little cleaning this morning to get the place presentable. After lunch I sewed the binding on the chickadee; I'll save the hand sewing for tomorrow.

I made a few more crazy patch blocks for the birch piece. I think I'm going to have to finish them to decide if it works or not. They're meant to represent the dappled colors of the forest. As for the blue printed bits, I'm not sure about them either. If I do use them I will do some free motion black stitching on them to bring out the birch trees.
Now, I'm going to have a cup of tea.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

guild UFO day

Today was the 2nd of 2 UFO days our guild holds in the senior room of our civic center each month. I always go if I can and take a lunch. It's an effort to get there sometimes, especially after an 18 cm snowfall like we had last night but it is always worth it. The room is always a-twitter with excited chatter and happy vibes. At lunch we gather tables and sit to eat. Then, it's back to the sewing but the chatting continues. I won't be showing what I'm working on, sorry, so here are some of the other lady's works in progress.
Leonie brought this lovely strip quilt to show.

My friend Elise was machine quilting a baby quilt.

And Debbie sat and hand quilted this striking quilt. There is always such a variety. Don't you love the colors?
Carmelle was making a project using the color wheels we made one year at guild. Mine is around here somewhere--haven't made mine into anything yet.
When I came home the female woodpecker was on the deck at the suet cake.
 She left and the male showed up. My they are polite.

Friday, January 20, 2012

3 Gelli monoprints

While I was waiting for my soda soaking fabric, the other day, I took out the Gelli plate and decided to do a little printing. I usually collect textural items and keep them near my drafting table, so I don't have to go looking for stuff. I also had some white papillon washed and torn into pieces ready to print.

Using a palette knife and or a plastic knife, I dabbed some Setacolor fabric paint onto the plate and spread it with a brayer.You can see in the 2nd picture above that I have spread the green and dabbed on some pink that hasn't yet been spread. You have to be careful not to over do it with the brayer or the colors will all mix together.

Next, I carefully laid the tracing paper flower shapes that I had drawn and cut out last week onto the plate to act as a resist.
Then, to create some texture, I used a plastic grid and a piece of lace which I laid on and lifted before putting the papillon down.
Finally, lay the fabric onto the plate and rub all over with fingers. I suppose you could use a plastic spoon, (rubber gloves wouldn't work) though there isn't really any paint that comes through.Carefully pull it off and lay or hang it to dry. I wipe the gelli with a clean rag and start again. The next day, I heat set with the iron and a piece of muslin over the top.
I did 3 prints. The 2nd and 3rd didn't turn out as well as the first. I was using a paint with metallic in it and it dried quite quickly.
I carefully peeled the tissue flowers away from the plate each time. I've set them to dry so I can use them again.

snow dyed fabric

After getting home form my lunch with friends and the grocery store, I got these two snow dyed pieces washed and dried. I have no idea what I will end up using them for, but at least I know the dye still works and I should use it up. The colors are very rich, but there are a lot of white areas so I shall have to think about how to sue them.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

snow dyeing tutorial

I decided on Tuesday night that if we got some nice fresh snow, I would try some snow dyeing.
As is often the case with me, I read about it sometime last winter I believe in Quilting Arts magazine and I had already prepared the supplies needed, but never gotten around to trying it.
The first thing I did was gather all my equipment which I had stored in an old dishpan. I mixed up a soda ash and water solution, about 4 tbsp to a half gallon of water and put a couple of pieces of white cotton papillon in it to soak for a half hour. Rubber gloves and a mask for mixing the soda ash and the powdered dyes are necessary.

Using rubber gloves I wrung out the 2 pieces of fabric and laid them in 2 piles on the plastic rack in the Rubbermaid container.

Then I went out on my deck and scooped up 2 yogurt containers of fresh snow. With a mask on, I mixed about a tablespoon of each color of Procion MX dye(midnight blue and magenta) into the snow which I then spread onto each pile of fabric. I only mixed the dye powder with the top half of the snow in each yogurt container, spread it onto the heaped fabric and then I simply spread the rest of the snow on top. The idea is to let the snow melt and thus carry the dye through the fabric. I didn't mind a little color overlap where they touched. I put the lid on and set it near a heater--not close enough to melt the container!

I wasn't sure how well the dye would take, as I heard they lose their strength as they age, and these were several years old. At noon today, though, I went downstairs and started rinsing the fabric. You need to wear rubber gloves during this process as well. I rinsed and rinsed until the water became clearer, and I got hungry, so I left it in the laundry sink to soak with some Synthropal for a while. Most directions say to throw it in the wash at this point but I'll have to hand wash since I have a new front load washer and it goes off balance without a full load. I figure, I'll just keep rinsing until clear and then I'll throw it in the drier. It's pretty well rinsed at this point though and the color is quite intense.

I will keep rinsing today and finally put it in the drier so you'll have to wait a day for the final result.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

bindings and borders

Yesterday, I finished the machine quilting on the little chickadee hanging. I'm auditioning a sample binding which I think I will go with.

I didn't feel like putting it on last night--too fiddly when I'm tired, so I turned to my birch tree to see how I would proceed there. I got the idea that I might like to do crazy patches which represent the fall birch forest colors, and put them around the narrow batik border. I did one last night and laid it on the wall; however, I will need to do more before I can decide if it they will work.

We've had a few inches of snow over night which may turn to rain later; I hope not because we've already got a layer of ice underneath this fresh snow. I watched the chickadees and gold finches while I ate breakfast, but they had disappeared by the time I got the camera out.

School was cancelled as well, but it doesn't seem bad and it is currently not snowing, so I plan to go to my usual Wednesday swim this morning at the spa which is only a few minutes from here.
I'm linking to the Needle and Thread Network  for WIP Wednesday. go check out the lovely variety of stitching and quilting blogs.

Monday, January 16, 2012

chickadee and scrappy socks

I had 2 appointments today, so my studio time was very short. I did  some of the machine quilting on the chickadee piece.

It is going OK, although there was an issue with the machine skipping stitches. All was fine on the test piece, so I'm guessing that the paint stiffened the fabric enough to cause the jumping. I was using a quilting needle and switched to a top stitching needle which seemed to do fine. I think it could have been smaller than the size 14 that I had to use. I read on another blog that titanium needles are supposed to be good for painted fabrics so I will try to get some.
I do like how the quilting is looking around the birch trees.

I'm not completely happy with the raw edges either. If I had backed the pieces with fusible, there would be less fraying. Some people like the really raw edges; I'm just not used to it.

I finished the first scrappy sock as well and started the next one. Aren't they wild?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

a little thread work, a little paint

It amazes me how I've managed to fritter a day away and accomplished very little! I was out doing errands twice, the market, a downtown clothing store, home, and then out again, picking up prescriptions and getting ink from Staples. While I was there, I checked out some tablets. I'm thinking (dreaming) of getting one so if anyone has suggestions or comments, I'm open.

Last night I finished up the stitching on the leaf. I think I'm OK with it. I haven't sewn anything down yet as I may do a little more stitching on the birch first.

I really like this batik with  it. I may border it, but I'm thinking it might look good surrounded with some crazy patch blocks using the batik along with some greens and golds.
Around 2:00PM,  I thought I might like to get out the Gelli plate and play around. I started flipping through some pictures doing a few sketches, and pulling out some fabrics, when I came across a flour paste resist that I did some time ago. It reminded me of the lacy looking winter trees outside my window. I ended up pulling out my Neocolor II crayons and (coloring) painting in the background. The first picture shows it half done so you can see what the piece looked like with the flour paste resist and ink on the bottom half.

I'm not completely sure I like the green , maybe it would have been better to stick with the one color. I'll work with it though. The bobbin work snowflakes are calling me.
I took this picture of a flock of robins today at lunch. It is quite amazing because we're always on the look out for the first robin to return in early spring. What these guys are doing here I don't know. There were at least a dozen or so eating the berries in the neighbours mountain ash trees . Did they decide to stay for the winter or were they blown off course? I can only speculate.