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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Well, I just found the artists postcards I designed for Baby Lock have been finally posted on their site - they are fun and easy to do! Enjoy !!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fat and Cheeky Baby Bird Quilt

The baby quilt is finally complete.
When I began this project all I knew was that I wanted birds - everything else evolved along the way. It was going to have fat baby birds but they each had to have a personality - so each was appliqued with hand embroidered details added. Some are cotton, some have a touch of wool and there is a silk breast here and there; all tweet with "attitude" !!! I knew it was going to be mostly white with touches of blue and a tiny bit of red - the Mom-to-be loves vintage things so it had to have that old fashioned puckery look. I didn't wash the fabric ahead of time but waited until it was complete before washing and drying it to get the lovely puffy effect for the birds.

(I'm so glad that I did a test piece using the hand dyed red fabric for the red bird - it ran and made the white pink so I chose another red which ran very slightly. Luckily, I belong to a Yahoo dye group and one of the very clever ladies suggested using a Shout color grabber sheet and that worked like a charm)

To make it a little more special, I wanted it to have something for the Mom to read to the baby while they snuggle - so I added verse taken from poems about birds and stitched the text along the borders using my trusty Pfaff 1475 - just fabulous for this - I can program in any text I want and it will stitch out from memory - no hooping needed! One border includes a verse from a popular old Scottish poem learned when I was young "Wee Chooky Birdie, To Lo Lo . . . "

As far as the quilting goes, I wanted a stippled look but decided as I went along that the plain white squares called out for something different to break up the monotony - pinwheels added just the right touch giving it a little more tailored effect and keeping it from being too feminine (I thought).

It's such a dark and dreary day here making it really hard to take a good picture but I'm sure you'll get the idea -- it is sooo soft with just the right amount of puckers surrounding the puffy birds.
Back to felting after the beginning of the year!

Monday, December 01, 2008

One More Thing . . . . .

I picked up this book at a wonderful quilt shop in Frederick, Maryland, "Needles and Pins" and decided to try out the technique - this is a first attempt at needle felting one of the tiny dogs for a birthday gift for one of our granddaughters; it's a miniature version of a life size stuffed puppy she also received. All I can say is FUN! This is a great book! My second attempt is underway and I think I'm hooked! The picture just doesn't do it justice because the eyes (I embroidered since I didn't have the glass eyes) ears and markings looked so realistic in real life!

Cheeky birds -- The Makings of a Baby Quilt

I have tried to make a special keepsake for all the new babies our children have had and have been thinking and planning for weeks for our newest expected arrival. While I'm in my studio, I can see lots of bird activity out in the garden so I decided to make a baby quilt mainly in white, with a variety of hand embroidered and appliqued very sweet blue birds and with one very naughty red one. I'm fortunate enough to have my wonderful Pfaff 1475 that can be easily programmed to stitch out verse - so I'm gathering children's bird poems and stitching some lines along the borders - this is what we have so far. Of course, nothing is sewn together yet but you get the idea. Once it has all been pieced, plans are to machine quilt it and wash in the machine so it will shrink and get the vintage look.

My Mom

My Mom has been seriously ill and we almost lost her - but thanks to the good Lord, she is improving daily! She is such a very special person adored by her family and we need to have her for a few more years. Needless to say, there hasn't been much felting time for the past two weeks - vigils and prayers by the bedside. Prayer works :-)

Things I've Been Up to Lately

Meet cashmere "Teddy" who is only 6" tall, very soft and a perfect friend for a new baby.

I haven't had time to felt but I have been working on some things for our new grandson who we expect in early February - he will be the first for our youngest and her husband and we are thrilled and waiting with great anticipation!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Finished Felted Gloves

I finally had the time this weekend to finish felting the fingerless gloves started a few days ago. I'm so pleased with the results, although there was so much talk on my felt group about some people not felting sufficiently enough that I went a little overboard! In fact, I made a small pair(pink), a medium (blue) and a large (plum/green) and ended up having to really stretch them out so they will fit the young women they are intended for!

I do agree that many (especially new felters) stop working with the felt before they should; however, I don't agree that everything needs to be a really hard felt - I'll clarify this: bags and wearable goods in order to be durable and not fall apart really need to be a very hard felt but many of the items I make such as my flower art felts among others are better left a little soft. Of course, most of my machine needle/wet felted items also have stitching so the composition and the end results are quite different. These gloves are a good hard felt but quite pliable and soft (I always use a little hair conditioner in the rinse water) and functional - yeah, my first Christmas gifts complete before Thanksgiving!

My (wonderful) publisher

Martingale, who published Needle Felting Magic (and who will also publish my new book next September) very generously sent me some complimentary copies of many quilt books when they found out I needed inspiration for a baby quilt -- I've been searching for just the right theme for our new grandson, to be born early February -- I decided that the quilt should be mostly white with blue and tiny touches of red. Birds will be the theme - fat, cheeky birds perched and ready to take off for exciting new adventures. I've been appliqueing the birds ("winging" it actually since I have this idea in my mind and no pattern -- I don't know if you've noticed but I tend to give myself these daunting challenges!) and adding some embroidered details as I go along. My "test" piece didn't fall apart when washed in the washing machine and it shrunk nicely which will really help to show the stippling I plan around the birds. Mostly bluebirds with one very naughty red!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More Felting - this time fingerless gloves!

No, these aren't tree branches - they are well felted fingerless gloves! My friend Kathy invited me over so we could have a felting evening - we each made three pair of fingerless gloves so they could be rolled side by side. It takes a while to lay out the wool and it got late, so I brought the wet unfinished gloves home and have been working on them in stages as I get the time. That's the beauty of working with felt - you just re-wet and continue with the rolling and fulling. These are really a lovely hard felt. Although it is difficult to tell from the picture, there are little bits of yarn and curls embedded - there is even a little bow toward the cuff that doesn't show up.

This pair needs a little more work - almost there! The wool is getting pebby texture and the yarn is really embedded nicely. I used a lot of mohair curls and they take longer to felt.

Much more to go - some more work needs to be done one this pair. They need to shrink by a couple of inches and harden as gloves typically get a lot of wear and have to hold up!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Embellished and Scrumbled Scarf

While looking for the blazer embellishment pictures, I found this scarf I had done as a gift -- you may like to try make them too - the main scarf was needle felted according to the instructions in "Needle Felting Magic" with some silk velvet embedded and then scrumbles added to each end. For those who don't know what scrumbles are -- you are missing out! They are free-form knitted and crochet modular pieces put together -- great fun to add more embellishment!

I'm just sorry that I didn't take better pictures as it was in lovely shades of blueberry and violet (I should have taken the pictures outdoors - natures light is alway better in capturing all the subtleties of color).

Blazer Embellishment in Progress

Here are a couple of pictures of the blazer embellishment taken while dissolving the water soluble fabric. They show the colors a little more clearly!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Babylock Project

Well, I just found out by accident while doing research for my book that the Embellished Jean Jacket that I designed for Baby Lock is finally listed on the Babylock site! Go check it out and download the free instructions - just in time for making gifts! It's fun, fast and easy and makes quite a statement! You can take the same idea and use it to decorate sweaters, sweatshirts or just about anything else! Have Fun!!!

I used velvet and other materials to needle felt a collar, lapels and pocket flaps. There are several other projects I designed for them as well so look out for these in the future on the Baby Lock website!

Friday, October 24, 2008

We Want Glitz!!!

"We Want Glitz" -- a line from the upcoming book that's coming sooo close to being finished - even just a tiny bit of added glimmer seems to enhance just about anything!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

As Promised !

"It's a Boy!" A wee "dottee" doll made for a mother-to-be!
I did finally manage to get a better picture of the wrap - this will give you a better idea of what's to come!
I LOVE doing flowers. This is a small section of a large piece - has a watercolor look, don't you think?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Last Weekend's Work

This is just a glimpse of last weekend's work -- the usual tiresome story -- can't really show more yet, just a tease of what's to come in my book! Sorry the picture isn't great but the combination of silk gauze and wool is really difficult to photograph. When I captured the rose, the gauze didn't look great and in this one, the rose (at the center back) is washed out I know - if I manage to get a better picture, I'll post it but in the meantime, this is the best I have. I'm really pleased with the results. I don't mind slaving away if I'm pleased with the end result and it is very satisfying! The really difficult part is to translate all the steps so everyone else can follow it.

Monday, October 06, 2008

So Much Information . . . .

There is just so much going on now - as I head down to my book deadline - I'm bursting at the seams with all the things I've learned refining the projects for my book - one good lesson worth learning for all of us when we are inspired by a beautiful project -- more than likely it has been a process for the designer as nothing seems to work out perfectly the first time - the ideas may be in your head - but trying to achieve what you'd like takes a lot of practice of trial and error before success - BUT when success is achieved after striving so hard, it is such a good and satisfying feeling.

This inspirational rose is only one in a box of cards for breast cancer awareness and the artist has done a spectacular job; trying to achieve the same effect in a flat piece of felt is another matter but one I felt was worth a try.
Here is the rose fiber mix.

Here is a "bunch" of roses ready for my project and finishing touches! Wish I could show you more -- I'm very excited this morning as my Rose Gauze wrap turned out spectacular after working very hard for two whole days! Even though you'll have to wait a while, you'll get to try these techniques too once my book is finalized.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Coming Soon!!!

More tiny "snippets" of something exciting coming up to share with you in the next few weeks -- keep tuned and you'll be sure to find out

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Come Play at Quilting in the Piedmont !!!

These are are small samples prepared as visual examples of various techniques used in the three classes I'll teach at "Quilting in the Piedmont" - if you are near or would like to travel to Greensboro, NC for the September 26, 27, 28 event - we are in for a lot of fun and I'll be sharing some of my secret techniques learned through trial and error with students! Hurry -- contact Randy's Quilt Shop 1-336-545-5558 I'd love to meet you!!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Still In Love with Color and Texture

A small sample of shibori pole wrapping - this luscious silk charmuese was dyed in soft cream and pink, pole wrapped and pleated before over dyeing with brighter pink.

A glimmer of the silk hankies dyed last week to be used for a very special project designed for my book - they are very lacy and the color reminds me of Vermont leaves - perfect for Fall!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Experiments with Shibori Puckers and Pattern

I've ironed a tiny piece to let you see the pattern. To achieve this, I simply "poked" my finger up through a section of silk, "poked" the center inward, took and stitch to hold it in place using quilting thread and tightly wound the thread around this bubble. I made these bubbles as close together as I possibly could before overdying the original color which was a soft robin's egg blue, with golden brown -- a little heavier in some areas. When I get a chance to play again, I'll dye the base using a mix of colors and then overdye again using a mix to see what happens! Great fun and what a surprise when you remove the thread. One hint: use magnifying reading glasses to remove the thread to avoid holes in the fabric!

I'm fascinated with shibori - there are many different types and I'm enamored with pole wrapping. Lately, I've decided I want to expand my knowledge and although I already own one fabulous book by Karren Brito "Shibori - Creating Color and Texture on Silk", I've ordered another from Amazon by Yoshiko Wada since I want to delve more into stitching and overdying.

Some time ago, I purchased a piece of shibori cotton that fascinated me with the color pattern so I decided to make an attempt on one the soft robin's egg blue silk pieces dyed last week and this is the yummy result of overdying it with a golden brown acid dye. I'm thrilled. This is a small piece and the color is variegated throughout - more brown in some areas than others as you see.
You must leave it to dry completely before removing the thread. When I pulled the puckers apart, there is a definite pattern and I ironed a small piece to let you see although I do love those puckers! You can iron the whole piece to use as a patterned piece for a quilt piece or other project; however to keep the puckers and use it that way, just iron some lightweight fusible web to the back - when I get the time to experiment more, I'll post the results.
It began with the silk piece below and you can see what it looks like after stitching and over-dyeing.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Dyeing to Tell (Not allowed to tell the rest)

More tidbits of projects that are keeping me very busy but I can't share what they are since they are projects for my book. The working title is "Magical Felting" but the publisher can change that.

This week's dyeing attempt - much more pleasing to me than last weeks although the lighting makes it look much paler than it is - I'm going to do Shibori stitching on the robin egg blue chiffon and overdye it - exciting to plan! Having some extra time to play really makes the dyeing experience much more fun and I learned so much!
Here is the silk habotai, silk gauze, silk chiffon, silk hankies, silk rods, a few wool curls and a bit of wool roving -- I'm feeling a bit more confident now working with the acid dyes - there's some pieces missing that are still drying - some red that was way too bright overdyed with a golden brown and now it's a lovely cinnebar - lovely for Fall.

This was last week's dyeing attempt - I wanted a "leafy" green but got this neon green instead. I've since overdyed it and and it's deeper and much more subdued which is what I wanted - it's still drying :-)