Yes, it’s spring.

For me, spring is simply planting time. I’ve always lived in rural areas, with farms and fields surrounding the small towns I love. The rhythm of my life follows the rhythm of the seasons…planting time, growing season, harvest time, resting time.

Even if the planting is a few plants in a pot,

or a little row of annuals, or a single tomato plant.

That rhythm certainly is carrying into my art practice as well as my normal activities right now. This week has been absolutely glorious for all the flowering trees. They couldn’t get one more bud on the branches. More full and beautiful than I can remember ever seeing them.

I couldn’t get the pictures out of my brain. I also wanted to have some handwork ready to go, but nothing jumped off the fabric shelves to inspire me.

Until I picked up this remnant of hand dyed wool.

And put it back. And picked it up again.

I really did not have those beautiful trees in mind when I started stitching. I simply wanted to sew. And use some of my pretty hand-dyed thread. And sew…

Suddenly it seemed as though I was making a tree trunk and some flowers. The lovely trees came to the forefront of my mind and that picture will remain as I stitch on this fabric.

This strip of fabric is long and probably will be cut into smaller segments as I go along. Certainly isn’t blue skies and sunshine, but I’m not very traditional! For the moment, it’s flowering trees. It may grow in unexpected ways, as many of my projects do.

I’m simply so happy to be stitching.

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Dye and discharge pieces

Doctor appt and blood donation took care of my time yesterday, but I’m back to the black discharge and hand-dyed fabrics today. I have had several people tell me that they like to follow along with my thought process in designing a piece, so I’ll continue to do that!

I made just a few more of the wacky nine patch blocks, for a slight variety of color, but decided that the majority of the fabric will be used in bigger chunks.

Chunks of square-ish fabrics, folded over with a line pressed into it…sew on each side of the line, cut and press open.

Simple half-square triangles, only I don’t care if they are square, rectangle or just plain wonky!

Sometimes they come out almost perfectly square.

A little trim and they are just perfect.

However, when using oddball shapes and random folds, you often get unusual pieces.

Before I trim these up square/rectangular, I will want to entertain the idea of adding additional strips to fill in the holes.

No decision on that, yet. Since I don’t know how this work will grow, I’m going to hold off on that decision until I get started with this up on the design wall.

I did decide that I’m going to make it easy on myself and keep everything straight and squared off. No funky curves or hard to fit angles.

I randomly paired hunks of the fabrics and now have a lot of dark and dyed building blocks. I’m ready to start building the entire piece and will make further decisions as I go along from here.

However, my design space is taken up right now with turquoise pieces waiting for paint and I don’t have quite enough room for both. Some re-arranging is needed before I continue…………..stay tuned! I’m not sure which piece will get worked on next, since that paint should be here today!

And I really do enjoy working on more than one piece at a time. Design decisions occupy different corners of my brain at various stages and flipping between them gives me more time to plan for each one.

Good times…………….!

 

Thinking, thinking, thinking!

Not much sewing going on right now. Mostly I am spending all my time plotting out a biiiiiiig project that jumped into my brain last week.

Part of it was trying to use up all those turquoise scraps. The pile was going down a bit at a time, until I looked in another scrap basket and found more! I piled those on the stack and decided to keep going until I USED them all. I got to a point where I eliminated the solids and used up only the prints and it worked. I made it. A huge old pile of scraps, made up into blocks. Don’t know what size any of them are, but I trimmed them up and squared them up and they are ready to be used.

That’s when the big idea hit…and I had to dye batting to use to make up all these individual blocks to fill this huge piece of wool that will be my backing!

The batting project slowed me down a bit and it’s good that it did. Lots of planning for this one. Here’s the batting drying, in the absolute darkest part of my basement, so the pic is what it is! But that batting is sturdy and took a beating and hung together well. Some of it will show, so it is now a color that will blend well and still add texture.

Now that backing—it’s 60 x 68 and part of my thinking is deciding which direction I will place it, how I will attach the top/batting…a block at a time, or quilt from the center out or one end to the other, or baste in the whole thing and quilt however I wish, or divide the design into sections. Or even make it a much smaller piece. All of that thinking was about the actual construction process and I didn’t even have a design figured out!!!

I thought I might do a tree and a reflection of a tree, in black and white stitching. I rarely sketch things out, but I grabbed my sketch book and it opened to a page that had…leaves drawn on it! I added a ‘feeling’ of the tree idea, but it may change into a more leaf oriented piece.

So, of course, I had to follow a tangent idea…if I use leaves, would they look good as painted/stamped/stenciled and then stitched? Stick with the black and white idea?

I have not been impressed with any white paint I have tried so far, for opacity.  I have not purchased everything that has been suggested, so I went with I had. Trying out stamping on a print fabric block, with real leaves, in white…………

Used craft acrylic and acrylic from a tube, with a bit of textile medium

Not much difference, but I liked the tube paint a bit better because it was thicker. Now to try it out with the black and white stitching that I’m pretty sure I want to do!

Since I don’t like to waste paint, I grabbed some dark teal and a piece of black and used up the rest of the white on those.

Of course they show up really well on a dark solid! It’s those turquoise prints that I’m interested in right now, though. I’ll work on my practice piece and see where all my thinking takes me next.

It’s a really good thing that I have had to wait for the batting to get dyed and then dry. Planning is not my strong point, so I’m happy to have a lot of time to think about this one!

 

Frustration!

This circle piece has me totally frustrated. I was happy taking it in a new direction, but none of the plans I had for finishing are working out.

I wanted to quilt in the blocks with metallic thread. I have used this particular copper thread many times with no problems…put the spool in a mug, tension down very low and don’t move too quickly. Not happening, no matter what adjustments I tried to make.

Bottom thread pulling up…thread breakage…and then I remembered that rusted fabric is not kind to any type of further sewing. The rust is IN the fabric and does not yield gracefully to the needle. So, this got ripped out and I thought I would try that lovely ribbon yarn, sewn down on the sashing strips with the metallic.

I didn’t even take pics of that disaster before it got ripped out. The turquoise fabric is rust fabric that was overdyed, so it did not play well either.

Plain thread, straight stitch worked so I reluctantly got all the blocks and sashing lined with that.

Not at all sure what to try next. I’m not happy with any ideas that have been drifting in and out of my brain.

Frustrated! Time for a nap, I guess!

Turned and topped

Where I left off–

was with this piece turned to the vertical direction and I liked it better that way. But it was still only just okay. The bottom was too abrupt and I first thought about chopping it off entirely. Glad I didn’t because I think it needs that black.

I went rummaging in the trim drawers–yes, it used to be ‘drawer’ but those items just keep piling up! There really is a reason to keep that stuff, though. I found a small bit of variegated, loosely spun, cotton yarn that seemed perfect to add on top of this piece.

This is all I have left!!!

The quilt is 33″ long and this is not enough yarn to go one more length, but I am so happy to have actually used up something!!!

It’s funny, and wonderful, how the addition of something so simple can make such a big difference. I went from feeling like this piece was fine, but ordinary, to liking it very much now!

Having done these last two pieces, I think I’m done with black and white/high contrast for a little while. I guess I’m not so good at  in-depth studying!

I might go back and finish this piece

since I found something in that trim drawer that might help it along! Yeah, I know, it’s purple, but sometimes that’s the only color that works!

 

 

Revisiting old matters!

Every time I turn around in my studio, I find something else to distract me and to play with. Picking my way through a pile of scraps, I saw a piece that made me remember a class that I designed for the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild. It was quite a few years ago, shortly after my book came out, and I wanted to create something unique for my guild class.

After I designed it and came up with a set of directions, I made it several times in different fabrics to illustrate  that each person’s project would be totally unique.

Crime Wave 3

Crime Wave 2

I had saved a bundle of the original class materials—who knows why? Some of the parts were made to illustrate the way to make a new section, and there is a bit of each of the original fabrics left.

I have started sorting through it and trying to decide if I should make another piece with the same color scheme and materials, or try to create something very different.

I walked away from it at this point for a while. When I looked at the pictures to begin this blog, I came up with a starting point!

I love the way the black and white piano key curved pieces look as a small striped section, so I’m going to start with that.

My style has changed a bit since 2011 also, so I don’t think I will be using as much of the colored fabrics as I did in the past. Starting with black and white should lead me in a different direction…maybe! I’m ready to start on a new vision from an old project.

Directed by a challenge

I know that I mentioned our Creative Seasons art group challenge–a Dirty Dozen objects to celebrate 12 years together. I finally got that started today.

This is my group of challenge objects and it’s some of my favorite colors! I have been wanting to do something with flying geese again, so this seemed like the perfect place to start.

And putting them together….

Overflowing shelves to the rescue for inspiration for the next step. Some of my previously screen printed cotton organza seemed like a perfect fit for this project, along with a couple of borders.

I’ve already decided that no matter what else is added, the turquoise border is going to end up smaller…and it’s only 1.5″ now!

My wonderful embellishments…

and I’ve started to figure out where they are going. Not totally set in my mind, yet, but getting there. I haven’t done any hand stitching for quite a while and I’m looking forward to that part of the project.

I’m having a good time working with horizontal and vertical directions. Not sure of the orange ribbon where it’s at right now, but this is the fun part. Playing…I suppose I could get all artsy/fartsy and say that this is the deep, dark, creative angst period that brings great meaning to my art, but that would be BS!!!

This is just plain fun!