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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This past Sunday, I taught a small class at Sew and Vac in Ellicott City, Maryland. We had a great time and the ladies were so much fun! Everyone had used their Embellisher but it is always fun to be together in a class. The project was a crazy patch pillow top that mixed cottons, silk, velvet and roving.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Report on the Houston Quilt Market -- Amazing!!! as well as a very exciting opportunity to promote "Needle Felting Magic" -- my book on machine needle felting.

I returned from the Houston Quilt Market inspired and with a new appreciation of all the effort that goes into producing such an event. My daughter, Jenni, and I arranged to meet at the Houston Airport baggage claim on Thursday, October 25, and if it hadn't been for the wonderful driver she hired to pick us up, we would never have found each other. My flight arrived a little under an hour before Jenni's and it took a really long time to get my luggage as three large planes had arrived at the same time. I wondered why I couldn't find her flight from Savannah on the monitor and thought it was just too early -- well, thank goodness the driver knew that I was in a different building all together! We didn't know what to expect at the Market, only that I was to do a Schoolhouse Presentation on Friday, demonstrations at the Martingale booth on Saturday morning/afternoon and again at the Checker's booth (their largest distributor) the next day.

First, there are Greyhound buses that run between the hotels and the convention center every 15 minutes which makes it very convenienct to go back and forth as well as meet other attendees from all over the world. For those who not are familiar with this event, the first week is the "Market" and is only for buyers, shop owners, the trade (fabric lines, embellishments such as buttons, buckles, patterns and other enhancements) as well as publishers and authors (and now that includes me!) and the second week is the Festival which is open to the public. We were only there for the Market. On Friday we had to go pick up our name tags at the Exhibition booth and then on to the Martingale booth for the tag holders -- mine came complete with an official "Author" pin !!! Although my book is an introductory book, that is what the publisher wanted -- it is meant to show just how easy and how much fun it is to create projects that look difficult. That afternoon we sat in on another quilt designer's presentation just to understand how it all works. Well, it works like clockwork! When it is your turn, you begin and end on time -- I had all of 15 minutes to convince store owners and buyers why they needed my book, what materials they could sell and the importance of displaying fabulous samples and offering classes. My helpers were some marketing gals from Martingale (they are the best!) and my sweet cheerleader daughter Jennifer who is such an inspiration as well as help to me. The room held 100 people and my session was standing room only -- I was pleasantly surprised to find my local quilt shop owner Jackie, from Patches in Mount Airy, in the audience! Imagine!!! Also sitting in the front row, was Sheila Rauen, from Tennessee, who is a fabulous artists, designer, author (and soulmate) -- I didn't know it at the time but after she came to one of my demos, we ended up spending a lot of time together (lunch AND dinner to be exact) as we just "clicked" !!! Now I have a fabulous new very, very talented friend. We are keeping our fingers crossed that not only Jennifer but that Andrea my other dear helpmate and first born ;-) will join in on the fun for 2008! Just how that fun will evolve, is yet to be determined !!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What are these? Some more of Her Majesty Margo's "fluffs and fancies." These are batts: fiber that I've carded (combed using a drum carder) that makes it as light and as fluffy as a cloud -- they even have hints of glitter, compliments of Angelina (fiber that is!) This is the stuff that "dreams" are made of'; now they are on their way to become scarves but I'd be happy just padding my studio with them so I could keep on touching and looking at them every day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I'm almost finished doing the hand emroidery on my silk piece -- I'm considering mounting it but it needs to be easy to pack and/or ship as part of my trunk show. I know that I don't want it to be framed and that it needs to be stitched on to something firm and in a colorway that will enhance and not detract from the piece itself. What am I considering so far? Painters canvas dyed or painted in that same soft ochre or perhaps a quilted irregular shape? If you have any ideas let me know!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I'm posting a progress picture of the silk flower garden I needle and wet felted last week. The plan is to add hand embroidery, silk ribbon, beads and anything else that comes to me. So far, I've added some (a lot!) of french knots and silk ribbon. It has been really difficult to capture just how delicate and interesting the piece is -- a mix of pleated hand dyed silk (by me!) and fiber. I want to really not overpower the piece itself but to make each corner interesting enough for your eye to linger a bit before moving on to the next.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My "Rosy Posy" sweater! A few years ago I knitted a ribbon yarn sweater which I absolutely love; HOWEVER, I noticed that each time I wore it, the sleeves "grew.' To prevent this next time around, I'll knit the ribbon together with a fine yarn. This past weekend I finally took the time to fix it since I just couldn't wear it the way it was anymore. The solution was to measure the sleeve and mark where it would be cut and machine stitch three rows around each sleeve before (bravely) cutting them off below the stitching. As you can see from the ruler, the sleeves were 6" too long!

I decided to needle and wet felt a cuff using a Vilene base, silk chiffon, wool roving, silk velvet and some of the same ribbon yarn. I also used some free motion stitching before wet felting it. I couldn't be more pleased with the results of my "Rosy Posy" sweater!

Monday, September 03, 2007

For any of you who live in Maryland, I'll be presenting my trunk show on November 3 during (Ellicott City) Sew and Vac's Sew Fair and then I'll be doing an Embellisher workshop there too on November 11. We'll have a great time creating a crazy patch pillow top. For more information contact Janice, the owner

Here are is an example of some of the materials we'll use in a blue/green colorway with touches of vibrant pink. I'll post a picture of the finished sample when it is complete. It will be Embellished and free motion stitched.

This post is to help those machine needle felters become familiar with the use of Vilene or other water soluble fabric. I began experimenting with this several years ago and it has become one of my very favorite means to create fabric. Once we learn how to create fabric, the possibilities for using it is unlimited. Sometimes the work is so pretty that you'll just want to mount it to hang on the wall; other times it would make a gorgeous pocket or lapel to dress up a sweater or jacket.

This piece is as light as air -- the materials used were silk habotai, silk rods, silk throwsters waste and mohair roving all dyed by me with the exception of the mohair. It was all machine needle felted on to Vilene and then some areas machine stitched. I have just begun to add hand stitching along with some beads and at the moment that is all I know for certain; I'll let the piece "talk" to me as I go along -- it may end up being mounted because I love the different textures.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Well, I must be rusty using blogger -- I wasn't able to upload all the images I wanted to and I can't figure out how to post pictures in the correct order grrr! I shouldn't complain as all this has been made available to me -- so I'm trying once again! Here are the pictures of the special fabric used in Mom's bag. I purchased fat quarters and used some of other quarters for the lining and many pockets (six plus a zippered pocket) for all Mom's stuff she likes to carry with her. If anyone who reads this has tips for putting pictures where you want them, I'd very much appreciate knowing how! Please, please send me an e-mail telling me how!

I've got some catching up and some explaining to do! It's been a while since my last posting and what have I been up to? As any productive person will tell you -- if we try to go in too many directions, then nothing gets done well and I needed a break to restore my energy -- so this summer instead of my usual evening activities of embellishing or crocheting, I've been spending a lot of time reading except that is, if you don't count the endless hours of starting and ripping out a lacy shawl I've had trouble knitting. -- I don't know whether it is me or the directions but if I'm to be honest then I must confess it is a bit of both! If it wasn't that the colors were so gorgous then I'd had given up 20 hours ago!!! but I keep on trying and I will make it if it takes me a lifetime! You can see the gorgous colorways here

This all began during our annual trip to the Outer Banks where we spend time with some close family members and do nothing much at all except read and eat. We joke around that when it comes to the food which always seems to be the top priority; we are either talking about it, shopping for it, cooking it, or eating it! We do have fun. I also managed to read two excellent books that tweaked my interest for more and I also found the time to roll the eight skeins of lace-weight wool for my shawl which ranges from the palest green all the way to a deep blue.

I was invited to teach at an event held by Nancy's Notions in April -- the folks who work there are unbelievably organized and kind -- be sure to sign up for a class if you are anywhere near Wisconsin I also met a new friend, Susann Carlson. We had so much in common but, unfortunately, we just didn't have enough time together.

In June, I travelled to Nashville to teach at an event hosted by Sally Cheney or AAA Sewing and Vacuum. Sally and her staff know how to show students a good time and we made many new converts to our beloved Embellisher. If you have an opportunity, visit Sally's store in Madison as she and her staff go all out for the customer! I also had the good fortune to meet Brian Bailie (Designer Gallery Software) as well as Eileen Roche, Margaret Tully and Joan Friedrich. Margaret and Joan together are surely as funny as any comedy team during their serger presentation!

Lately I've been working with fabrics that inspired me to make a bag for my darling Mom's upcoming birthday (shhh! she's going to be 84 years old!) The fabric collection is "Garden Etchints" and I bought a fat quarter in each colorway! My dear friend, Barbara, took me to her favorite quilt store in Purcellville, Virginia, Web Fabrics. They've been doing business on line but now have a gorgeous new store packed to the gills with tempting quilting fabrics and supplies.

To begin with I layered the one fat quarter of the fabric, cotton batting, and muslin underneath. I then used my Embellisher to attach the yarns at random -- with some of them I embellished down multiple strands one at a time, side-by-side to add interest. The next step as to free motion stitch completely over the fat quarter and the yarns as well to anchor them well.

Monday, April 09, 2007

What to do with some fabulous "leafy" paper purchased a few weeks ago in an upscale card/gift store?

It has a handmade textured backing with really lovely delicate soft aquamarine leaves almost floating on top reminding me of the view you get when gazing up through the trees.
We hosted Easter dinner for our family yesterday. I really enjoyed doing this as I love planning the table decorations (to give the grandchildren fond memories and besides I'm just a kid at heart) and the menu with a few favorites such as stuffed leg of lamb as well . It also allowed the side of me that loves to experiment in the kitchen to try something new thanks to; I tried her appetizer of crostini with pear pine nuts, ginger and gorgonzola grilled for a few moments - YUM!
After all that work, I needed an Embellisher "fix" this morning. I'm not surrounded by all my colorful samples since I shipped them off a few days ago to Nancy's Notions in preparation for next weekend class and trunk show so things feel a little "bare" here (okay, less cluttered!)

In my stash I found some lovely border leicester curls and a piece of wide silk ribbon dyed last year and left over from another project. It still needed something else so I decided that lace scraps would be perfect to add texture to the smoothness of the leaves. I still had no idea where this was going. I began with a rectangle of the paper and began layering lace, curls and ribbon. It was pretty but lacked interest so I took a chance and cut it up into several long rectangular pieces, arranged them mosaic style on to another torn piece of the same paper and embellished them down. It makes a great collage and will look great mounted on to a board for hanging. I'll look at it for a day or so to decide if it needs machine stitching or beads. Sometimes simplicity is best and you have to listen to your inner voice telling you it is time to stop.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

This crazy quilt square is an ongoing work in progress -- the fabrics are a mix of quilting cotton, silk/rayon velvet and hand dyed silk pieces Embellished on to water soluble stabilizer. I enjoy doing hand work in the evening so it is far from complete -- I've begun in one corner using some simple stitches in matching hues with just a dash of an introductory color.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

These pins were made from some materials left over from another project. Lime green silk chiffon needle felted on to scraps of wool felt with some bright pink curls and a little glitter -- these would be great for a fast gift or would make a fabulous package decoration when coordinated with the wrapping paper.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The next piece is named "tutti frutti" because it's mainly citrus colors with a little blue. I love the orange/yellow/blue combination. For the details, I added some simple french knots with a row of sequins below.

I've been working on a few new fabric samples - "Poppy" is the first was made using some velvet burnout in delicious colorways from Flights of Fancy. I like having some pieces ready to embellish with beads or hand work while I sit with my husband in the evening.

Next is a piece named "violets" and was made using velvets, silks and ribbon yarns. You have to forgive me for the incorrect order -- haven't quite got the hang of it yet but I'll eventually figure it out!

The flowers on the green bag were made using a delicious thick and thin yarn in bright pink, red, orange and just a touch of green. The petals were needle felted on to netting, torn off and needle felted in place. Next, I cut tiny pieces of the red and Embellished them along a green yarn "stem" to add some detail -- it looks very soft and has a watercolor look to it.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

HURRAH! My manuscript for my upcoming book "Needle Felting Magic" is finally finished. Although it is a small book meant to tweak the interest and provide some basic information, it will have five projects that are fun and easy to do. If everything goes as planned, it will be introduced in the Fall 2007. I worked on it every spare moment between working so I really didn't have much spare time to post but I promise to do better now. My dear Internet friend, Phyllis, has been very patiently prodding me every so often to get back -- Phyllis, this one's for you!

Remember the October post? I have a basketful of these delicious Caribbean green scrumbles but they are being very stubborn by not "telling" me what to do with them; I needle and wet felted some fabric to match but I've given up pairing the two. Today, I decided to put away the scrumbles and forget about them for a while -- I think I've been working with them too long and need a break to try something new. I decided to make a bag with the fabric and adorn it with some very bright pink felted flowers -- here are the beginning stages and I'll add posts as I progress.

The flowers were created by embellishing thick and thin yarn - roving would work just as well) on to netting (in this case sparkle tulle) When each petal was finished, rather than cut it out, I just gently pulled away the netting and used my Embellisher to needle felt it in place on my felted fabric. I made several of these colorful fantasy flowers and surrounded them with some lovely robin egg blue crimpy curls fluffed out in places. I plan to add some machine stitching -- note the butterfly who doesn't yet have any antennae -- her wings are needle felted too!