Always in Stitches

Location: Algonquin, Illinois, United States

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Working It Out

I had set aside some time during the week to get a post up here, but wouldn’t you know, when I was ready Blogger wasn’t. Somehow I just didn’t seem to get back to it until now. Isn’t that the way it goes?

This week I haven’t been doing much sewing, unless of course you count the black crocheted scarf that I am almost done with. If you have been reading for a while you will remember that I went through a period a while back where all I did was crochet scarves. Well one has snuck back in. I seem to fall back on the crochet when I need a mindless activity. It seems like at times I need a way to wrestle with all of the ideas in my head that are struggling to force their way to the top of the heap where the one will be granted the designation of the next piece that just has to be made. The good news is that I have every intention of spending a bit a quality time with my machine today.

For your viewing pleasure I have loaded a picture of my May 2005 Journal Quilt. I have posted this one here before. It is important to note that the first four Journals (Jan, Feb, March and April) all ended up making the cut for Houston… four of the five that I was allowed to submit from the nine created. It almost sounds like something from Star Trek… five of nine.

As I have said before, having to exclude May from the chosen really bothered me, but she just didn’t fit in with the theme that developed that year. The crux in her exclusion is that I feel she is one of the stronger pieces I have created. As an artist how do you decide to exclude a piece that you feel is superior to some of the others, in order to present a set of work that is cohesive? For me I sat down with my crochet hook and the muse and I had a talk.

They who lack talent expect things to happen without effort. They ascribe failure to a lack of inspiration or ability, or to misfortune, rather than to insufficient application. At the core of every true talent there is an awareness of the difficulties inherent in any achievement, and the confidence that by persistence and patience something worthwhile will be realized. Thus talent is a species of vigor. —Eric Hoffer

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Something Out of Nothing

Ever have one of those days where for every one thing that you attempt you discover that there is a bunch of steps that you have to go thought to get the one thing done? I had one of those days yesterday. My intent was to put a post on the blog of the April 2005 Journal quilt. I sat down at the computer with my requisite cup of coffee and lots of ideas of things that I wanted to say. Then I reached above my monitor to grab the CD with all the image of the 2005 Journals and it wasn’t there.

You know what happens next. You start the search. Hours later and still there was no CD. Finally, after tormenting myself most of the day, someone mentioned that they just had to have a jewel case and had taken the very one that I was looking for and stashed the CD in a book where it would be safe. Well it was safe, but my mood was ruined.

Maybe it is appropriate that this piece is about making do and about making something out of nothing. This is the statement that I wrote about this piece: “I was digging through my scrap bin and started playing with some tiny bits of fabric that I could not bear to part with. The next thing I knew I was cobbling them together, in order to “do” something with them. This one really makes me smile.”

It always makes me smile when I am able to accomplish the tasks that I set for myself.

Providence has hidden a charm in difficult undertakings, which is appreciated only by those who dare to grapple with them. —Anne-Sophie Swetchine

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ideas, Time and the Inevitable Wait

You know I just hate it when you wait around for something and then find out that whatever it was that you were waiting for isn’t what you wanted. Case in point. My machine was at the doctors for tune up and to fix the bobbin winder. Of course I was in the middle of a project and thought that I had to have my machine to do the next part. So I wait a week to pick up my machine, come home and get started on phase two only to discover that I don’t like how it is working out. (Big heavy sigh) The solution of course was hand stitching which is something that I could have done while I was waiting on my machine. Ah well, it is now done and I can move to the next phase.

Karoda asked if I have incorporated the latticework that I did on the February 2005 Journal quilt into another larger work. The answer is…. Not yet. As usual I have more ideas for quilts than I have time to execute. But I really did like how it worked out and I do plan to use this for a quilt that has been sketched out in my journal. I will get to that one after I have finished the other twenty or so projects that are on my current to-do list.

To continue with my theme and my desire to show you some pretty pictures here is my March 2005 journal quilt. This was my first attempt at painting on fabric. Truthfully, it was really my first attempt at painting anything other than a wall. At that time I was involved in a traveling journal project and the person whose journal I had for that month had a theme of Icons and Shrines. Buddha seemed to fit pretty well with the theme and what some of the previous contributors had created. So I decided to do a sample piece. If it came out ok, I would do another, hopefully better piece to be included with her journal.

I did do a second piece for her journal and changed a few things on it. Of course the second one came out better, or at least I thought so. But then I was faced with having this sample and trying to figure out what I was going to do with it. Karey’s Journal Quilt Project to the rescue. Well the Journal quilts are supposed to be about experimentation, and this was definitely an experiment. I figured it fit.

Every composer knows the anguish and despair occasioned by forgetting ideas which one had no time to write down. —Hector Berlioz

Sunday, October 15, 2006

February 2005 Journal Quilt

I am really happy today because yesterday I was able to pick up my baby from her stay at the doctors…. And she is all better. Of course someone tried to tempt me into a new purchase. I took a good look at the new Brother QC-1000. It is a nice looking machine and if I had a spare $1,500 lying around she would have come home with me, but as it is I will just have to add her to the list of things that I “need”. Like I “need” another machine.

The bottom line is that a week is too long to not have my machine. Today amongst the other things on my very long to-do list there is one item that is a need. There will be no compromise on this one. Today I need to sit at my machine and sew.

For your viewing pleasure I have put up a picture of my February 2005 Journal Quilt. When I was constructing this piece I really wanted to use the gold fern fabric that is in the background of this piece. I think it is really pretty, but for some reason I just could not stand to cut it into little pieces. So the idea of looking at a garden through a trellis came to mind. The trellis is constructed so that it floats on top of the background. I think it came out ok.

Ask not what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive... then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. —Howard Thurman

Thursday, October 12, 2006

My Babies Are Home

I forgot to mention that my 2005 Journal Quilts arrived home last week. It is the funniest thing to open the package of returning quilts every year… It is almost like Christmas… I am never sure what I will find in there. It seems like while they are gone I forget all about them. But when I see them it is like greeting an old friend that you have somehow lost track of and suddenly see them in some unexpected location.

This is January for 2005. I just fell in love with these fabrics and had to do something with them. As a matter of fact these fabrics have become two different pieces, but I need to get some pictures taken of the other one. I will try to get that done in the next couple of days and post that one too. And you all can tell me which one you like better.

To the soul, there is hardly anything more healing than friendship. —Thomas Moore

Monday, October 09, 2006

Woe Is Me

I sat down to do some sewing on Friday and realized that my bobbin was empty. So I slapped a empty bobbin in the bobbin winder, ran the thread around to get it started, hit the start button and... NOTHING happened!

Waaaaaa!!! Off she went to the shop. While she is there she will get a good cleaning and a checkup, something that she needed anyway. But now I will be without her for a whole week. I was right in the middle of a new project and I am anxious to get it done. Now it is on hold.

I guess I will just have to see what trouble I can get myself into with one of my other machines.

Delay always breeds danger; and to protract a great design is often to ruin it. —Miguel de Cervantes

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Brain Profile

I really don’t like the silly online tests, mostly because they never really strike me as being believable. But this one was a little different. If this is true it might explain a little bit about me. For instance why I like math so much, why I like everything neat and tidy and why even given all of those obstacles I still have to create something.

You Are 50% Left Brained, 50% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.

Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.

If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.

Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.

Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.

If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.

Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

I suppose it also explains why on the list of things my left and right brain prefers there are two exceptions… I don’t prefer dogs and I don’t really care for sports.

My method is different. I don't rush into actual work. When I get a new idea, I start at once building it up in my imagination, and make improvements and operate the devise in my mind. When I have gone as far as to embody everything in my invention, every possible improvement I can think of, and when I see no fault anywhere, I put into concrete form the final product of my brain.—Win Ng

Monday, October 02, 2006

Leaf Postcard

Since Vickyth asked, I figured there must be some more of you out there who have been wondering how I did the green and purple leaves. So here is a little behind the scenes look at what I did. I do apologize because the purple and green leaf postcard is truly one of a kind. The background fabric that I used was just a scrap and it was barely bigger than the 4” x 6” needed for the postcards. But we will give it a run with a different background fabric.

So the materials you will need is your background fabric, some scrap batting, a coffee filter, skeletal leaves, Steam a Seam 2, and Rayon thread to match.

Rough cut the background fabric and the batting to measure just a bit bigger than the desired 4”x 6” finished size.

Fuse the skeletal leaves to the base fabric using the Steam a Seam 2. Be sure to cover the leaves with some release paper so that none of the fusible sticks to your iron.

Layer the coffee filter, batting and background fabric together. I use the coffee filter to keep the batting from getting clogged up in the feed dogs and it helps keep the piece moving smoothly along as I stitch. I began using a coffee filter because they are always handy due to my coffee habit and they are relatively inexpensive, but you can use any other sort of stabilizer that you have to hand. I then use my machine’s zigzag stitch to outline around the leaf shape with the rayon thread. I also make sure to pull my top thread to the back of the piece. This keeps the top of the piece neat and tidy and since I will be covering the back I am not concerned with how it looks.

On my machine I choose the zigzag stitch and set the stitch length to .5, and the width to .5 as well. As I move around the outside shape I increase the width of the stitch gradually as I move around the curves and as I approach the end of the leaf I begin to decrease the stitch width. I try to take at least 2-4 stitches at each setting before increasing/decreasing the stitch width again. This gives a smooth continuous line, without noticeable gaps in the size. You may want to try your machines satin stitch for this. I did not like the results I got using the satin stitch on my machine.

If you do not like the results of your first pass, go over it again. I often go back over a second or third time to get a thicker line around the leaf shape, making sure that I overlap the second pass onto the existing line. Next I go in and create the veins of the leaves, once again making sure to pull my top thread to the back of the piece and adjusting the width of the zigzag as needed.

Ta-Da. There it is, now it is just a matter of finishing your postcard as you wish.

I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air. —Nathaniel Hawthorne