My mom recently mentioned that she had a charity auction coming up and wondered if I might knit something for it. I chose to make a scarf using some yarn that she kindly gave me for xmas this year, a new Knit Picks silk/alpaca blend called Diadem, and a pattern called Falling Water.
This yarn was a little bit of a bear to wind – the hank was slightly messy and it wouldn’t spool off the swift like it should have. I put it in time out for awhile after tediously winding it by hand, though, and was ready to face it again by the time I wanted to knit this scarf. It knit up nicely, though! This yarn grabs a bamboo needle in an easy-to-work-with way.
You can see that this yarn has a sheen to it, and the color is a super subtle ombre that is really lovely in good light (my photos don’t really capture it). The yarn also works quite nicely with this stitch pattern.
I’m pleased with the result! It’s a light-ish scarf but definitely warm if you wrap it more tightly. Hopefully someone will like it and purchase it in the auction!
My first art quilt project is coming along!
Last I posted, I had gotten the background mostly together. I then finished that up, so I had a nice full-size main quilt top to work with. (I didn’t choose the size based on the size of my craft table, but it worked out to my advantage, as you can see). I then took a couple of photographs of some of my dolls and manipulated them using photo-editing software so that I could get an outline to work from for the general shape of the woman who’ll be sitting in the foreground of the quilt. I also used some free online apps to blow up the images so that they would print on multiple sheets of paper, which I then taped together and traced. In the photo above you can see that the head in the upper right is the print out, which has a lot more detail than I wanted for the final pattern. The traced (and somewhat altered to suit my whim) version is in the center. I also cut out the pieces of the body separately at this point, so I could monkey with the perspective and how it was laid out, and so I could really see how her limbs fit together (so my monkeying didn’t make her look wonky).
At the same time, I was working on a dress for the figure. I knew that I wanted to do a modified version of a Dresden Plate, so that there would be a variety of fabrics and so that the pieces could radiate out from the center of her torso.
I sewed the pieces together and pressed the seams all in one direction to help it sit flat.
I fussy-cut this bird from some fabric and then cut a larger outline piece from a similar but not-quite-the-same orange fabric. Then I sewed around the edges to hold it all together. Note: I did not make the very center of the purple circle perfect. I knew that I was going to be covering it anyway, so I didn’t bother to be mega exact with all the tiny edges of the wedges.
I cut out the body in one piece and then laid the purple circle over it, and outlined where I needed to cut to make it dress-shaped. I’m really pleased with the look of the garment.
I also did some accent stitching on the dress to defined and add a little more oomph to the patchwork of the garment. I wasn’t super fastidious about the spacing of this stitching, and I like the more organic feel that creates.
Here we are working on her head again. When I made my outline for her face, I decided to create some dimension on her hair by using layers and sections of smaller pieces, as well as with stitching (more to come on that later). So you can see that there are more sections of hair on the real thing than on the outline. I prefer to create a basic pattern/shape to go from, but to change it up and embellish it as I’m working with the actual fabric.
And here she is on her backdrop. Not finished yet!
Here’s some of that stitching I mentioned earlier. I wanted to create more dimension in her hair, and I did so by using separate pieces of cloth (locks of hair, sort of) and by free motion stitching within the hair sections. I used two shades of thread to add more texture and contrast. I have been reading up on thread painting, decorative stitching, and free motion stitching, but I haven’t tried it before this. For my first try, I’m quite pleased with it! It has just the effect I was going for.
There’s still more to do on this quilt, as there are a few elements I haven’t even started on yet, as well as finishing the other details on the figure. Then will come the actual quilting when I put it all together. I’m really having fun creating this project, and I hope that I can make it one of a series of art quilt pieces.
We went to the latest meetup of the Mount Pleasant Board/Card Game Group last weekend and learned to play my new favorite game, Ticket to Ride.
I’d heard that it was a fun game but never had a chance to play it until now. It was nice that several friends also came (four of the six FunderAchievers were there, actually!) and we felt right at home. The night before, we watched the TableTop episode featuring this game, which was both a great explanation of the basic rules and an entertaining show featuring several people we like.
We played two rounds of this game, and I tied for winner on the first game! I think we’ll definitely pick it up for ourselves pretty soon, since we had such a good time playing it.
We also tried out my pal Kristin’s newly acquired edition of the Murder She Wrote Board Game. Dun dun DUN!
While this game is definitely fun for a fan of MSW purely on principle, it is definitely not the most well thought-out game I’ve ever played. It’s quite complicated and there are a TON of rules and things to remember purely about gameplay. It also features creepy generic illustrated characters like the one pictured above (apparently they could only get a license for Angela Lansbury’s image, since none of the other usuals are included). Lucky for us, Kristin solved the case pretty quickly, so the murdered was caught and did not get to make a motorboat escape. Phew!
February seems to last forever, doesn’t it? Somehow the shortest month seems the most difficult to get through, and we’ve had a doozy weather-wise this year. Still, we’ve had a few sunny days and those always remind me that this, too, shall pass, and that sooner than later we’ll have warmer temperatures and fewer overcast days. We hope, anyway. One never knows with Michigan. Let’s all send out some positive good-weather wishes!
I got so inspired by both of the art quilt exhibits we went to see last week. After seeing them, I came up with an idea for my own first art quilt project and I’m quite excited about it. I’d like to make something that tells a story, but I’m bearing in mind that I also want it to be a manageable project that I can realistically finish in a decent amount of time. I only really have time to sew on the weekends, and even then, usually only a couple of chunks of more than an hour at a time since we usually have other obligations or plans that seem to take up at least half of each day. I’ve totally mastered that time crunch thing, can you tell? (HA HA)
I started out with good ol’ graph paper and sketched out a vague idea of what I want to make. Of course through the process of graphing it out, I changed my mind about three times about the way I liked best. That’s half the fun of making your own designs, though, right? I cut out squares of 2.5″, so I end up with about 2″ squares after seaming. The quilt will be a little over 40×40″ altogether, possibly closer to 50×50″ depending on what I decide to do for the border and binding.
Because we have a relatively limited amount of space in our apartment, I’ve come up with some probably incorrect ways of doing things that allow me to work on things in sections. In the photo above, you can see that on the left side of the table, I have squares laid out next to one another so I could get the combination of fabrics I wanted, and on the right, the work in progress. You might notice that there is just one row of blue squares at the top of the green, and this is because I don’t have enough space to lay them out all at once. This is where the incorrect part comes in: ideally, I’d like to be able to do full rows all at once including both blue and green, but as it is I’m doing it half and half. My seaming is fairly accurate so I think that I’m doing a good enough job that you won’t be able to tell that it wasn’t done all in one.
Here’s the lower (green) portion of the quilt all put together (not including the border yet).
And now you can see that I’m adding in the blue. I laid it all out in the same way I did the green so that I could place each square purposefully and get the overall effect I’m going for. Then I started constructing each row of blue and adding it to the larger piece. I still have quite a bit of blue left to add but ran out of time to do more (even with a three-day weekend, it’s just not enough!).
As you have probably guessed, the green and blue will represent earth and sky. I’ll be adding an applique motif on top of this background. I’m looking forward to that, as I’ll be able to try out some new-to-me techniques. I’m quite pleased with how the green and blue sections are coming together so far. The diagonal placement of the squares gives it some movement and I think the colors/patterns I chose have created the patchwork effect I’m going for. I also spent some time this weekend planning out the applique design. I’m not sure exactly how it’s going to work out just yet, but I’m using photographs I’ve taken and then manipulating them (using photo software) to create a rough guide for my design.
I listened to a bunch of Welcome to Night Vale and The Indoor Kids while working on this project. I highly recommend both of these podcasts.
It is a quilt-tastic time in Mount Pleasant! In addition to the Lenore Crawford exhibit at Art Reach, we also have the amazing Ann Kowaleski story quilt exhibit currently on display in the Baber Room at CMU’s Park Library. Kowaleski is a well-known quilt artist whose work is influenced by folk art and the cultural traditions of Mexico and Guatemala, as well as everyday life – the way she translates the commonplace into these beautiful handcrafted art pieces is truly inspiring to me.
The Spirit: Graham, Dickinson and O’Keeffe (98×45″)
This large quilt is a tribute to three well-known inspirational artists from various fields: Martha Graham, Emily Dickinson, and Georgia O’Keeffe. Kowaleski has given each woman a distinct section of the quilt, but uses organic shapes to ease the transitions between the three so there is a feeling of flow. The color palette of each section is fitting for its subject, and, also fittingly, the quilt has a rhythm that evokes the emotions inspired by dance, poetry, and painting.
The Emily Dickinson section includes representations of her poetry as though they are sheets of paper floating in the air around her. Kowaleski uses embroidery to include excerpts from some of Dickinson’s famous poems. I love this technique.
Life in Ordinary Times (45×60″)
This piece features Crewel embroidery in combination with traditional quilting and the use of some mixed media such as buttons and ribbon. It also incorporates a variety of fabrics: you can see in the photo above that she used a netting over top of a more traditional material to make part of the woman’s dress, in addition to several other fabrics, some of which are also nontraditional for a quilt.
So many things about this piece really captured me: the fact that the woman’s hair is at once somewhat wild, coming off her head in great swoops, but also beautiful and with great texture detail; the way the Crewelwork creates her expression both in the actual embroidery and in the way it affects the fabric it has been applied to; the way the woman’s hands clasp one another (a position that I admit looks quite familiar); and the use of a multitude of colors and patterns in the embroidery and fabrics that make up the woman’s dress to indicate the barely contained mayhem that so often makes up our daily life.
Midlife Musings (60×44″)
One of the things I really appreciate about Kowaleski’s quilts is that she captures the beauty of people, especially women, in a way that is not glamorous but instead evokes a more emotional response. These women are each unique in their appearance, though clearly all of a particular cohort. The women here are all supporting one another, and each appears to be wearing a mask. The use of the traditional (as a quilt subject) tulips around the edge of the quilt is a satisfying foil to the scene she’s created at the center of the piece. Likewise, the inclusion of the bread tray doily and the two small works of art on either side evoke thoughts of “women’s work” and the domestic expectations that women have faced (and still do).
Meet Me in the Bathtub (45×69″)
This quilt is another that uses a variety of materials to create an emotional response. I especially love the use of photographs printed on fabric as well as the use of ribbon and other embellishments.
Two Women (45×46″)
I especially like this quilt. It features two women who are, again, supporting one another. They are similar in shape and dress and yet you can see that they are two distinct individuals with distinct personalities when you look at their faces. The way Kowaleski has put together the fabric of their dresses is so pleasing to the eye: the diagonals of each dress bodice point inward, toward the heart, but also create a very flattering effect; the use of ribbon, buttons, and chain; and the color palette which is at once feminine and strong.
These story quilts are such an inspiration. I’m just getting into quilting myself, having only been doing it for a couple of years so far, but seeing artwork like this gives me so many ideas for possible projects and ways to take my quilts to be something beyond just useful or warm. I highly recommend checking out this exhibit, and I hope to see more from Kowaleski in the future.
One of the neatest places in Mount Pleasant is Art Reach. It’s a community arts organization that offers a gift shop, gallery space, outreach to schools, scholarships, and regular programs featuring visual art, poetry, music, and pretty much any kind of art you can think of. When we lived here before, they had a relatively small space in the church next to the library, but while we were gone they were able to move to retail and gallery space right downtown on Broadway.
I noticed that they were having an exhibition in the Morey Family Gallery this month called Fabric Art by a local(ish – she’s based in Midland) artist named Lenore Crawford. She combines quilting with fabric painting and a technique called thread painting (also known as thread drawing, according to the intarwebs) to create these beautiful art quilts.
Dogwood Blossoms II (31×40″)
You can see the very fine detail of her work. She uses a lot of applique technique to achieve the layered look that is reminiscent of the layers and texture you see in an oil painting.
I noticed here that she is using a variety of sewing techniques or styles in any one quilt – here we have a great contrast between the straight or barely curved lined of the leaves and petals of the flower and the swirls of the background quilting. Of course the floral motif of this one appeals to the gardener in me.
Grand Poppy (37×43″)
I love the combination of media Crawford used in this quilt, as well as the amazing color palette she utilized. The poppy itself is stunning, but the background behind the poppy really drew my attention. The colors range all over the place and yet never detract from the central focus of the main blossom. The variation of colors and stitches she used for the petals really capture the delicate, beautiful texture of a poppy blossom.
These beads are lovely – their luster really doesn’t show up well in this photo. What a neat way to represent the anthers of a poppy flower. I also wanted to show another of the stitch techniques she’s used, this time a varied zigzag stitch.
Winter Sky (29×23″)
This one drew my attention immediately. The stark silhouette of the tree combined with the so-familiar colors of a sunset in progress really rings true. Of course I managed not to get any other photos of the detail of this piece, but that doesn’t reflect how I responded to it (perhaps I neglected the camera because I was so engaged with the quilt).
The Garden Parasol, Frederick Frieseke (42.5×56.75″)
This was the first quilt I saw upon entering the gallery, and I noticed right away that there was a lot of painting within the quilting. It is based on a painting by an American impressionist painter who lived most of his life in France (impressionism and France are two of Crawford’s primary sources of inspiration). If you compare the two, you can see that the quilt is not just a direct copy/interpretation of the original painting, but adds some variation in shape and color choice as well as content. The background scene in the quilt is quite different from the painting (I think I prefer the quilt, actually), and the colors appear more vibrant and intense in the quilt.
I was so happy that I found out about this exhibit. It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning. I also found out that the Art Reach shop takes submissions for consignment by local artists (by jury), so that’s something I may work toward in the future myself.
I’ve been wanting to make myself a Hufflepuff scarf for quite some time – years, probably. I finally pushed it to the top of my to-make list and now it’s done!
I looked at a number of pattern choices before deciding how to make mine. I mostly followed the Hogwarts Scarf MkII pattern from The Come And Go Room, with a few small alterations.
I knew that I wanted my scarf to be primarily black, as that goes with my general style and wardrobe. I like the way it turned out: the gold stripes are a nice accent, but it’s not too overwhelmingly bright.
As you’ll notice, I didn’t make my scarf as long as those in the movie (14 sets of trapped bars) or even in the pattern (10 sets of trapped bars). I went with nine sets of trapped bars, since that seemed to be a good length for me while maintaining easy wear without too much likelihood of tripping over it or having it flapping around too much. As it is, the scarf is quite wide so it doesn’t need to be doubled up to provide a good warm layer. The 1×1 rib makes it nice and stretchy as well, and I think it’ll be nice and warm.
I also made the fringe a bit longer than recommended because I thought it would look nice. The original movie scarves have quite a short fringe that is just in the color of the main scarf body, but I chose to alternate colors for a little extra flair.
I’m quite pleased with how it turned out! It took quite awhile to knit (compared to my usual, anyway) because the 1×1 rib is a slow-growing stitch pattern. I’m excited to start wearing it!
No, I’m not practicing telekinesis, Kyle, I’m practicing clearing my mind of all things. And yoga is helping!
As I have mentioned, I’m striving to master the art of clearing the clutter from my brain and letting go of all the thoughts and anxieties that usually form a fairly constant parade through my mind. This week at yoga, I really felt like I’m making progress. I experienced several periods of what could have been actual minutes where I wasn’t distracted by other things and was able to just concentrate on my breathing. It was awesome! Of course, it’s baby steps on the way to mindfulness, but it’s progress and I’ll take it for now. Gracie does a really nice job of helping remind us that it’s natural to have this kind of struggle and that more often than not, there will be thoughts that try to distract you. (For anyone in the Mount P area, I highly recommend OmBodies yoga studio!) I’m going to have to miss next week’s session due to an out of town obligation and I will really miss that part of my weekend routine. I’ll be back to it the following week, though. I also heard about a meditation studio in town called Just Be and they have sessions for people of all skill levels, so that’s something I’m considering as well. I’m not at the point where I can clear my mind in other settings very well yet, but that’s a good goal. It would be nice to be able to do a soft reboot when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Now if only OmBodies started a D&D yoga class…
I somehow managed to get my swap package done early this month (unheard of!), so my partner has already received it and posted photos.
I think it turned out quite well! Check it out over at AnneArchy.