Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Pink Elephant Show!

So I'm one of those fidgety people who's pretty much always doing something.  If I have a project in hand, this tendency looks like oh-my-aren't-you-productive-and-dedicated, if I don't have a project it looks like please-for-goodness-sakes-won't-you-sit-still!  As a result, I usually try to have some sort of hand project with me for those sitting around times.

As a kid, I made those little woven potholders, and then I did cross-stitch and some other embroidery.  More recently though I've been trying other things.  My mom is a fabulous knitter, and taught my sister and I to knit.  However, in spite of having successfully made a knitted, felted Easter basket and a single sock, I feel compelled to address the importance of verb tense.  I have knitted in the past.  I do not knit in the present, I am unlikely to knit in the future.  I finally had to conclude that there are some crafty skills with which I just don't mesh well.  It's pretty sad too, because there are so many beautiful knitted things out there.  Alas,  I was so upset by knitting that my mom had to finish my other sock.

Mom, do you hear me?  THANK YOU for the sock.  I am NOT a knitter!

In contrast, I quite enjoy crocheting.  I've been doing some other hand projects, like English paper piecing and some hand quilting on a small whole cloth quilt, but today I'm going to share some cute crocheted animals. Amigurumi are all over the web; I jumped onto the train way late, but they're so adorable I couldn't resist making some.  I have Ana Paula Rimoli's book, "Amigurumi World: Seriously Cute Crochet" which has tons of cute little amigurumi animals and fruit.  The best thing about these is that they're super easy to crochet, so they're great for when you don't have the mental focus for super-duper concentration.  I made these two a couple of months ago out of yarn I just had sitting around.

Here's Pokey the pink elephant:


One of my favorite things about amigurumi and especially the pattern in the book are the little details and the proportions that contribute so much to their expressions and feel.  Pokey's toenails and skirt get me excited every time I see them!

And here's Ruff the spotted dog:

I love his big smile and his sentimental spotted eye.

The two of them love to play together and bounce about, but I think I'm about to give them away as presents to some small children I know.  Anyway, these are super-easy and adorable. Most are built on similar foundations, and only require the most basic of crochet skills.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tackling the UFOs!

So over at Fashioned by Meg they're doing a Finish it Up Challenge for summer of 2011.  Sounds like the plan for me!

I have counted up my UFOs and here is the current list of quilt projects things that have been started and not finished:

1. Purple Medallion Quilt:  Status- top pieced, needs to have faux trapunto and machine quilting.
2. Hawaiian Applique Quilt: Status-top pieced, sandwich made, some quilting done.  Needs to have Zendoodling quilting done and finished.
3. Dog Portraits: Status- two dogs thread painted, need to finish thread painting, assembly, and quilting.
4. Nativity Mosaic Quilt: Status- Mary and Joseph are mosaic-ed, everyone else needs to be tiled in and finished.
5. Visions of God Group Church Quilt: Status- All the blocks but 3 are sitting in a pile on my desk.  I need to get  three more blocks and then assemble/quilt it.
6. Large S Quilt: Status-Top is finished, needs to be blocked and quilted.
7. Small Caryl Fallert Blocks: Status-Miscellaneous blocks need to be quilted/finished and donated.
8. Grandmother's Flower Garden Project: Status-Not even sure what this is going to be, but I have been piecing a bunch of grandmother's flower garden blocks and need to do something with them.
9. Miniature Whole Cloth Quilt: Status-about 2/3ds finished, need to find some ribbon to quilt with and maybe some perl cotton.

Eek!  It seems like these are a lot of pretty big unfinished quilting projects and there may be more if I actually went through all my piles!  Certainly there are other ongoing non-quilt projects I'm involved in but it doesn't seem fair to list them too.  I'm going to be trying work hard on them this summer.  And while I could never promise not to start any new projects, I'm promising myself not to start any new BIG projects.  Keep your fingers crossed that I make some progress!

Here's a teaser picture from number 3 above.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Small S Quilt

My mom and I went to quilt camp for the second time this summer.  Quilt camp is the most amazing event ever, and I wish we could go each year.  Alas, it is pretty pricey, so every couple of years is about all we can manage.  Anyway, quilt camp is actually called Empty Spools Seminars and it's held at Asilomar State Park and conference grounds on the Monterey peninsula in CA.  The setting is pretty awesome, it's forested and full of wildlife AND on the ocean (no sand for this girl though).  You stay there and eat there, and attend a five day class with a really famous fabulous quilt artist of your choice.  Seriously, like summer camp for the quilt set.

This year we took a class with Caryl Bryer Fallert; anyone who is not familiar with her fantastic quilts should go look immediately and covet them.  Of course, they especially appeal to me with my urgent desire to use all-bright-colors-all-the-time-right-now!!!  Anyway, the class was super-duper and we learned a million fabulous things I'll talk about some other day.  At the beginning of the class we did a bunch of cool exercises (more on them also some other day), but toward the end of the class, we started designing our own large projects.

One of the exercises was to do something like 60 (no joke) small drawings/doodles inspired by magazine pictures, our imaginations, the view out the window, whatever.  We then picked a favorite to start designing our big project.  My favorite doodle was inspired by this "S" paragraph starting initial from a 12th century German manuscript.   We found it in this fabulous old book of copyright-free images my mom got from my grandpa.  I think he had it from his stagecraft days.

I designed my large S quilt based on it; I'll have a series of posts about that later as it's very much still in progress.  However, recently, a reader challenge in Quilting Arts magazine caught my eye.  The challenge was to design an 8.5 x 11 quilt incorporating text into the quilt in some way.  I decided to make a simplified version of my large S-quilt and enter my first-ever challenge!

Here's my pattern, I pieced the whole thing using Caryl Bryer Fallert's appli-piecing method which is very easy.

Sadly, for the second time I messed up and forgot to trace my pattern onto the templates in reverse, so I had to re-engineer as I went so the S wouldn't be backwards. Then I thread stitched the foot on backwards!  It was really wretched ripping out all those dense stitches.  I inked some of my favorite S-words in the border with Pigma pens and did a little shadowing with colored pencil.  For the fiery word the dragon/serpent is spitting, I used orange sharpie which bled a little bit more than I would have liked but I guess gives an interesting effect.  I also used a green sharpie on the green fabric to ink another S-word but it bled so much you can't even tell.  I quilted it on my Janome and put another S-word in the quilting.  Finally, I used seed beads for the big words at the bottom. I also did a faux piped border to give the little accent color. Special shout-out to Cheryl (yay Cheryl!!) who was kind enough to try to help me over the phone when I called her out of the blue for panicked help with the piping.  It turned out to be pretty easy (next time I'll try real piping) and I think the purple/pink gradation in the border nicely picks up the purple/pink from the serpent.  Keep your fingers crossed that it gets accepted into the magazine.  What are your favorite S-words?

Update: Sadly my little S quilt wasn't a finalist for the Quilting Arts contest, but I'll hang it up just the same!

S is for... #1, 2011 8.5" x 11"

Monday, June 20, 2011

Thread Catcher

Back in February I saw this cute thread catcher (I think it's actually called a Weighted Pincushion Organizer) on the Quilt Show website.  The pattern is from Sew Mama Sew (a great site for anyone who hasn't found it yet http://www.sewmamasew.com/).  I thought I'd make a couple of them, the pink one is mine, and I gave the green and yellow one to my mom for Valentine's Day.  It's pretty cute- the top is (obviously) a pin cushion, and the thread catcher is removable so you can stand it up somewhere else if you need to.  It also has a couple of little pockets built in to store your favorite accessories- for me the go-to things are the blue seam ripper and my little thread snips.  It was a quick and fun project- a great way to show off some brightly colored prints (and also, my refrigerator apparently).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Scrabble Ribbons

I used to play competitive scrabble quite a bit.  I wasn't very good, but it was a lot of fun and I met some really nice people.

A couple of years ago I volunteered to make some ribbons for a local tournament;  it was a fun project but quite a bit of work.  I was pretty happy to stumble across the freely available scramble font which gives those scrabble-tile looking letters.  I just sort of made it up as I went along; the first one I made (third from the right) I used a doubled-over strip of binding which I basted and gathered into the rosette shape.  That wound up being a little tricky, so the rest are made of easy yo-yos.  The hardest part was turning all those bottom ribbons.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pam Holland Letters

Pam Holland has a great series of patterns for fanciful letters.  I made three little wall-hangings with them at Christmas this year, one for me and two as Christmas presents for friends.  I loved inking and using colored pencil on the design.  It was also a fun (placemat) size to practice machine quilting, a skill I'm not very good at.

Monday, June 13, 2011


I don't really have too much of a plan for this space;  there are so many great tutorial websites/blogs and art quilt websites/blogs and fabulous places that help foster creativity, I don't really want to compete with those.  Mostly I just want to share some pictures and thoughts about the projects I'm excited about and working on.  I have a lot of old things to post for a while, and I'll sprinkle in some new stuff too as I get to it.

For the things I've already completed, I mostly have finished shots, but as I start to talk about some of my bigger projects, I may show some works in progress and share some of my design ideas and challenges.  I always welcome feedback and opinions, especially as I try to improve in my weak points.

Happy project-ing everyone!

Book Covers

Back in high school (in our pre-quilting days), my mom helped my sister and I make Bible covers.  They were fairly simple, and a great way to protect often referenced books, especially paperbacks.

More recently, I started keeping photos of my quilts in a small sketchbook and thought that it also ought to have a fabric cover.  This one doesn't have a layer of batting, but does have some raw-edge applique with beading a little bit of decorative stitching.

And then, just last week, my boss mentioned that she wanted to print out some 8.5x11 pictures to give to her far away granddaughter.  She had them in sheet protectors in a regular three-ring binder, so I made this book cover for the binder.  Fun colors for a little girl I thought, and fun colors for me too.  Anyway, the book covers are a super easy way to dress up a book, binder, sketchbook, or whatever.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Eye on the Ocean

This was my first big quilt after the bargello.  It's called "Eye on the Ocean" and I started on it in 2007.  The large center panel was a sarong I picked up in Hawaii, and the border points are made out of hawaiian-shirt fabric I also purchased there.  There's a great chain of about five fabric stores on the Hawaiian islands, we visit them every time we are lucky enough to visit.  I love these colors, they crop up again and again in my projects, no matter how hard I try.  Working with the sarong was a little bit tough; it was some sort of rayon and quite stretchy.  The quilt is almost large enough for a double bed but not quite.  Someday when I have a guest room, it will go on my twin beds with it's partner in quilt-brightness (One Hen, Two Ducks).  This was also the first quilt I ever did on the long arm (my mom's voyager); I can't imagine quilting something this big on my regular machine.  Hats off to the amazing quilt artists out there who do!
Eye on the Ocean, 92" x 65", 2008

Adventures in crazy quilting

When I first started quilting I had lots of accumulated fabric, but very little for quilting.  Most of it was from making clothes or costumes or crafts, so I decided it was the perfect opportunity to try crazy quilting.  Sadly, I had no idea what I was doing and just made it up as I went along, so the end result was, um, less than perfect.  Certainly fell short of some of the phenomenal crazy quilts out there. It was a lot of fun to make though, and fun to see the fabrics and remember the other projects they came from.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Bargello Fun

Ditat Deus, 69x64 2005
Shortly after making the birdhouse quilt, my mom gave me a quilt class as a Christmas present and I enrolled in a bargello class at a quilt store in Tucson.  I had a bunch of fun, and learned so many critical basic quilting/piecing techniques. I'm still not really precise though, and always envious of people who are patient enough to have good points!  It's one of my long-term creative goals!

In any case, I thought the quilt I started in the bargello class turned out pretty nice; I love the colors.  I called it Ditat Deus (God enriches).  That's the motto on the official seal of the State of Arizona, and the quilt reminds me of the colors of sunset in the desert.

Early Quilts

My mom has always been crafty, and as a result so have my sister and I.  About five years ago, she got into quilting and so did we.  I've never looked back since!  My very first quilt project ever, was this paper-pieced birdhouse triptych made using the patterns from Jaynette Huffs fun book "For the Birds: Paper-Pieced Birdhouses and Birdfeeders."

Paper-piecing (or foundation piecing) was so easy that I quickly made a paper-pieced pillow with a Judy Mathieson inspired Mariner's compass (which the dogs have since gnawed on), and this fabulous Christmas cactus wall-hanging from a pattern by Eileen Sullivan.

Sorry for the bad pictures.  More quilts and projects coming soon!