Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hit and Miss

With the Woman's Club annual Arts and Crafts completion coming up I decided to use my snowed in days during the Blizzard of 2015 to good advantage.  First I should tell you that we here in western CT really dodged the bullet.  They were predicting up to 36" of the white stuff and some parts of the state and other areas of New England did get that much, but we only got about 7 inches.  I am not complaining and I was so glad that we did not lose power so that I could sew.
I can no longer enter quilts into the competition since I am considered a professional because of my few sales here and there, so,I decided to make silk shibori scarves.  I had purchased a pretty one last year at the Brookfield Craft Center and I had done a fair amount of shibori dyeing with good success,  but I had never done it with silk.

This is the scarf I purchased last year. I liked its neutral color and have worn it quite a bit because it seems to go with a lot .  It was my inspiration. I had a hard time deciding what color to use for the initial pole wrap shibori and eventually chose olive green, a color I had used before in cotton dyeing and had liked and I thought it would be neutral. I did not want to try and copy this scarf. I wish I had taken a picture before I over-dyed it, but it was quite ugly.  The color separated into a yucky orange and green.  To make maters worse, I dyed three scarves in the same color.  What was I thinking?

What color should I use for the Itajime part where sections of the scarf are clamped and then dipped into another color?  I chose chocolate brown with a little black added.  I wanted a rich, dark color as in the one I had purchased. Instead I got this wishy-washy brown and the color migrated into the squares.  When I had done Itajime on cotton the blocked areas stayed the original color. I used different circles on the other two and they are equally ugly.  Maybe if I backed them with a fusible I could use them in an art quilt if I did a lot of stamping on top.  Maybe.... Or maybe I could dye them black and use discharge paste or bleach to do a pole wrap shibori again.  Maybe.....

Sooooooo, I made two more, this time using colors I like and was rather pleased with the results.  I gave a lot of thought as to the color I should use for the over-dyeing and decided on a navy blue for the chartreuse.  I had used navy before on cotton and it is a rich dark navy.

And this is what happened.  The navy is very purpley and migrated into the squares.  Not too horrible, but not at all what I had in mind.  After this I decided to keep the turquoise shibori just the way it is and call this a lesson learned that silk dyeing is not the same as cotton and get on to another kind of scarf, this time totally different.

I think this one is a winner.  I sewed strips cut from silk men's ties onto a lightweight cotton foundation and then backed it with fleece.  It is quite attractive on, with the pretty silks facing out and the warm fleece against the neck.  It should look good with my white down jacket.

All scarves are about 7" x 54".  I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015


I have been sewing and working toward my next big quilt. These panels are about 10" wide and 44" long made with all my hand-dyed fabrics.  I have two more greens to do and then I will decide what to do with them.  I have some ideas and that keeps changing. They may get cut in half vertically. I'm making these using my skinny-wiggly piecing technique, but that uses one inch strips and these start out with two inch strips and go together so much faster.  Maybe they are fat-wiggly piecing.

 In person there is more of a change in color  between panel 2 and 3.  Hmmm, who's lying, the camera or my eyes. Stay tuned and I'll show my progress as I move along.

I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday.  See what others are up do in the fiber art world.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Yesterday I attended a regional meeting of SAQA.  At the last couple of meetings we have had a raffle of items that members have contributed from their stash. I bought three tickets for a whopping three dollars and I was one of the lucky winners.  Each winner got to choose from what had been assembled into groups.  The pink and red of the buttons appealed to me and I took the rest of the bundle without really examining it until I got home and was so pleasantly surprised by what was in it.

First those pink and red buttons.  Not sure what I will do with them, but they just made me smile.

These three beautiful hand made cards were made by Barbara Adams.  Each one was quilted and sewn onto the card with a button hole stitch and came with a matching envelope.  The one on the far right is made of hand dyed fabric from Ghana.  They will be very hard to part with.

These lovely Thank You cards, a whole box of them, are made from an original work of art, Blood Iris, by Kate Themel.

And lastly this fun collection of sequins and a cute pink polka dot scarf.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New Year beginnings

I have started on a new project but I'm not sure if it's doing what I want.  I had this all in my mind and have been looking at this fabric for quite awhile and finally started sewing.  My vision was to use all of these six-way gradations and sew them in units of dark to light to dark. There will be several rows of different blue and blue-greens separated by very narrow strips of black and white striped fabric.  This is the first blue in the run.

On my first attempt I cut the strips in the usual one inch width and them sewed them together in the usual skinny wiggly piecing method.  I thought they were too skinny and I would have to make sooo many to get the desired height of about 40 inches. This one unit only measures about 9 inches high by 11 inches wide.  Do the math.

So I decided to cut the strips 2 inches wide and sew them together.  This is two units and measures about 40 inches by 11 inches wide. I know it's probably hard to visualize what I want to do so stay tuned and check back later.  I'm trying to give the impression of undulating.  Am I undulating?

My FANE group that meets monthly was given another fun challenge by our mentor, Jane Davila.  We were given plain wooden blocks that are 1 5/8" on each side.  I took one block home and totally ignored it.  At our last meeting members brought in their treasures, and treasures they were.  It was hard to imagine all the things that were done with the blocks and I felt so lame for not having done one.  I tried to think of something that no one else had done and then I remembered these antique watch faces that I purchased for a small art quilt a couple of years ago and a cute stencil I had in my stash and decided to go with a "time" theme.  I went through a couple of day's newspapers and found a few quotes to cut out.

I painted the block with silver paint.  It doesn't look this rough in person, but perhaps I should have sanded it to make it smoother. It look very grungy here. Not so grungy in real life.

You can see Cindy's block here and Jane's here and even more here.

I am linked to Off the Wall Friday.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


The art quilt group of the big guild, Northern Star Quilter's Guild, of which I am a member has a challenge each year and the results are hung at our annual show the first weekend in May. This year the theme is "Under the Microscope".  We are to create a microscopic image of something that has an interest to us. This is not meant to be a close-up or Macro shot , but a true peek thru a microscope.  The internet abounds in them.  I borrowed a book from a friend and in perusing it, I thought that this image would be interesting.  It is of pollen and since I like plants and like to garden I thought it might be interesting to try and interpret it in fabric.

Microscopic view of Lenten Rose pollen

Here is where the serendipity comes in.  This very same friend a couple of weeks later presented me with this plastic place mat that she had found at Home Goods, thinking that it would be fun to use it for dyeing with some texture.  She had no idea that I was thinking of using that photo. Can you see why I was so excited to receive it?  The patterning is almost exactly the same as the photo.

I went thru my hand-dyed stash and found this winey pink and using the placemats as a stencil I used black acrylic paint to make this fabric.

Then using the photo loosely as guide, I fused down the shapes onto a black background. Does it remind you of Packmen?

I free motion quilted around all the shapes and used some colored pencils to give it some dimension.
I think I will name it Achoo! even though I don't have allergies.

I'm linking up again with Off The Wall Friday.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Fiber Art for a Cause

I've blogged before about being invited to be one of the 100 artists to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.  You can read all about it here.  I thought and thought about what my contribution would be and started looking through my small pieces to see if one of them would be appropriate and I came across this piece that I had made and framed.  I thought it was a good representation of my work.  It uses only my hand dyed fabrics and has a lot of free motion quilting.  I thought it would be perfect.

It is 9 1/2 inch square mounted to an ecru 12"square mat.

It looked just fine up close but when I put it up on my design wall and looked at it from a distance I thought that the circles blended in with the background and needed some definition.

So I went around each circle with a running stitch using a darker shade of the the circle's color. I enjoyed doing the hand work, something I haven't done in a while.

Much better, I think.  You can see some of the other art on Pinterest here:

I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday.  Co check it out.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas at the Botanical Gardens

Today I shared a magical day with my son, home for the holidays from Portland OR.  We went to the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx to see their Holiday Train Show. It is the masterpiece of Paul Busse who created this wonderland over the past 20 years, constructing miniature replicas of famous NY landmarks out of plant material, such as twigs, cones, seed pods, etc.  Running throughout the display are miniature train sets.

The exhibit is set in the Edith A Haupt conservatory, so though it was a dreary drizzly day we were cozy and warm inside amongst all the plants.

I took a lot of pictures of the buildings but neglected to take any of the bridges overhead, the Brooklyn Bridge replica being 14 feet tall. If you've ever been to NYC you will recognize a lot of these buildings.

JFK Airport with the TWA terminal, made from giant fungi.

This is hard to read, but if you go the the link I gave you in the first paragraph, you can read all about him.

The angels at Rockefeller Plaza.

Famous skyscrapers, including the Chrysler Building.

Yankee Stadium with spotlights.

Edith A. Haupt Conservatory.

Check out the detail in the figures.

Grand Central Terminal.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

There were many, many children there today enjoying the scenes and trains.

St. Patrick's Cathedral

There were over 150 buildings and three huge bridges overhead.  Go to their website to read more about it and see more pictures and click on any of my pictures to see a bigger view of all.

After the exhibit we drove about a mile to Arthur Avenue for their famous Little Italy, full of restaurants, markets, pastry shops, bakeries, fish stores, butchers, and more.  We had a scrumptious lunch at Roberto's and did a little shopping.  We would have walked around a lot more, but the weather was miserable. The area was so busy and crowded, we had a hard time finding a parking place.  Everyone was shopping for their Christmas feasts.  It is an Italian tradition to have fish on Christmas Eve, so the stores were bustling.  It was a great day and fun to spend time with my son.

I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas with family and friends and a happy, healthy New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gifted Ornaments

I hosted a Christmas luncheon yesterday for 12 of my non-quilting friends. (More about my quilting friends later). I did all the cooking and following my niece's form, I served Pumpkin Pie Martinis to start, so delicious and everyone wanted the recipe. I was delighted to receive some lovely gifts including these five new additions to my trees.

This sparkly high heeled slipper fit right into my living room tree with all silver, white and gold ornaments.

As did this one made out of ribbon and fashioned to look like a rose, so pretty.

Everyone knows that I love Santas and this one was so unusual.  He's made of a small gourd and comes from Peru.

How about this handsome Parisian Santa with his easel, painting by the Eiffel Tower?  A real charmer!

And last but certainly not least, this winning Scottish Santa playing the bagpipe.

Now for my quilting friends.  I am hosting another luncheon tomorrow, but that will be much easier than yesterday's.  It's a much smaller group since so many will be out of town and its a potluck, so all I have to make is the meat course, a spiral baked ham, doesn't get much easier than that.  I love entertaining over the holidays and getting to share my festive home.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New Santas

If you follow my blog you know how much I love to decorate for Christmas.  Among other things, I put up two big trees.  The one in the living room has all silver, gold and white ornaments and the one in my family room has all Santa and red ornaments.  It's a big tree and there's always room for one or two new ones each year.

When I'm traveling I try to find a Santa from that country.  I looked and looked on my Canadian Rockies trip and the best I could find was this ice fishing Polar Bear with a Santa hat.  If you look very carefully you will see the fish he caught at the end of the line.

I am especially find of glass Santa ornaments and this little guy with a bottle-brush tree wanted to come home with me, so he did.

I could not resist this New York City Santa with the Empire State Building all decorated in red and green and the Big Apple with the I Love NY logo.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


I enjoy sending Christmas cards and am vey fussy about what I buy.  I especially like three dimensional ones, though they often require extra postage, so I don't do that as often.  I also love to get cards and it seems like such a shame to throw them away, so I have bundles of cards from previous years.

This year when I was getting out my supplies of new cards and a few left from last year, I came across a card that I had sent to a friend and that had been returned to me.  She was in a nursing home and sadly had been moved to the dementia wing so I never did resend it.  I thought it was such a cute card and tried to come up with a way that I could use it again.

I also like to wrap my gifts in attractive ways and thought that if I cut this card down, it would make a great package tag, something of which I always seem to run short. So I cut off the inside part of the card with the sentiment and writing, folded the front in half, using a boner for the crease, trimmed it way down, and voila, a nice little tag.

It was originally a horizontal card with a very long scarf to the left and more snow to the right.  Now the scarf wraps around to the back,  Those are real little buttons.  Isn't he cute?

So that got me to thinking about what I could do with some other cards and I went through all of my cards from last year.  They don't all adapt to this technique. Some are folded vertically as above where they open like a book or horizontally making a tag that opens from the bottom. If it has been written on on the inside of the front, you can't use it.  Some were small cards that could not be folded  but they could be used as a tag that you write on the front.

I will go through all those cards I have stored in the basement at a later date, but now I have to go and address this year's cards.