Archive for the ‘quilting’ Category

The Penguin

No, not the Batman villain, this is just a penguin. I shouldn’t say just a penguin, he’s an adorable penguin. A few months ago we took a road trip to Wyoming for my cousin’s wedding, and on the way we stopped at a great fabric store in Billings, MT. There’s more about the store, and the trip, in this post here, but the important part to know is that I got a pattern for a penguin family. Theoretically it’s to give me some practice making stuffed things before I try to make the dragon pattern that I got at the Albuquerque Fiber Arts Fiesta (there are a lot of posts on that one, but the dragon is in this post).

So a couple weeks ago I was planning to go out of town for an SCA event, but was reeeeeally tired on Friday night and decided it just wasn’t worth the drive. My mom suggested that since I had all my homework done ahead of time anyway, it would be a good time to work on the penguin, so we did! Mostly, it went pretty smoothly. I had some trouble getting the belly to line up right with the side panels, but my mom fixed that, and he somehow came out with his head turned a little sideways (I suspect this problem has something to do with the other one…), but he looks pretty good. I think I will do at least one more penguin, but not for a little while yet. I have a few other projects that have actual deadlines, a couple of which are coming up fast, that I need to do first.



We’ll call it a progress report

I was in Wyoming last week for my cousin’s wedding, we got back to town Wednesday, and that’s totally my excuse for not posting sooner. Then I got home and got lazy, *sigh* sometimes I just feel like being a lazy bum. But now I’m going to post! Cause I need to clean off my dining room table so I can do more crafting, and if I tell you guys I’m gonna clean, then I’ll probably do it! Anyway, I did some fiber stuff on my trip, and got some new fiber and fibery things, to tell you about. And then I have an update on the Dreambird project I’ve been working on!

First, my fiber acquisitions.

On the way to Wyoming we made a stop at this great fabric store in Billings, MT, called Fiberworks. They had some of the neatest fabrics I’ve seen, and definitely the best collection of animal print fabrics I’ve ever seen at a store, along with lots of cool patterns. That’s where we got the penguin pattern. My cousin Colleen wants me to make a penguin for her, and I’m thinking I may start playing with colorful penguins… sometimes I’m a bit too ambitious I think, we’ll see how that goes. I also got the blue felt there, which I plan to use as the background for a couple pieces I’m doing for another show with the Designing Quilters, called Beauty and the Breast. It should be an interesting show, and those pieces are what I want to work on when I finally get the table cleared off. We also went to a fabric store in Wyoming which is where I got the plaid fabric. I just loved the colors, and it was on sale, so we got it for me to use to make an apron dress for SCA stuff. It is cotton, which isn’t exactly accurate for the time period and location, but it’s so pretty! And I figure it will be nice to have a somewhat lighter-weight apron dress.

The quilt blocks have a fun story behind them. I like to geocache, which is like a worldwide treasure hunt where people hide little containers (called caches), sometimes with little knick knacks in them, sometimes with just logs, and then post the GPS coordinates to the cache online and other people try to find them. It’s lots of fun actually, although when I first heard about it I thought it sounded strange and boring, but it’s not! The point is, there was a quilting themed geocache in the town where we were staying! I got my mom and my aunt to come with and find that cache which is where we found the quilt blocks, and then left a few buttons in exchange, because the rules are that if you take something you leave something of equal value. I’m not totally sure what I’ll do with the quilt blocks, but my mom suggested making them into a box of sorts to store/display the stuff I find from geocaches, and I like that idea. Then, on our last day in Wyoming, we stopped at a thrift store in town, which had great prices, which is where we found the pattern for the cute little sheep (I want to say it’s a counted cross-stitch pattern). It was actually a kit, but it looks like it’s missing the thread at least, unless it came with almost no thread, but it’s cute and it still has the directions and chart, so I’ll have to try it one of these days. Counted cross-stitch is one of those techniques I’ve never tried, and only been marginally interested in trying.

And now, the dreambird shawl!

I’ve been moving almost painfully slowly on it. I’m not quite sure why, cause it always feels like I’m making great progress as I work on it, and then it just feels like I stall out and suddenly it’s taking me a couple hours for each feather. And I can’t quite pinpoint a certain section that’s taking extra time, cause each section separately seems to go quite quickly and easily. Maybe I just have a weird sense of time when I’m working on it, although there is the saying that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. So maybe extra time is just disappearing… yeah, doesn’t make sense to me either. But I think I’m almost half done with the shawl, so maybe just another month or so, I hope.


Now, I need to go clean off my dining room table. It’s where I take most of my pictures and I seem to just pile up the stuff I’m taking pictures of all over the table. And the sewing machine is set up there. The poor table is just not that big, so I need to do something about the mess. And now, because I’ve told you that I’m going to clean, I might actually do it!

messy, messy table

messy, messy table

Abq FAF final exhibits

I’ve got four exhibits to go in this post, but it shouldn’t be much more to the post than the others. I had totally forgotten that I took some pictures of the rug hooking exhibit, so I figured I’d toss those in with the ones I already had planned for this post.

First is the quilt exhibit, and there are a lot of these pictures. This was the biggest exhibit, and was actually split up into two locations cause there wasn’t space in just one! There were some very nice pieces with some interesting techniques and textures. Overall I quite enjoyed the exhibit.

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So it seems that I lied when I said this post would still be about the same size as the others. In fact there’s twice as many pictures as in any of the other exhibit posts :-D. The thing is, when I write a post, I don’t upload any of the pictures until I reach the point where I want to use a picture, at which point I upload them all. And this time it was a lot of pictures.

Anyway, next is the youth exhibit. I thought it was great that they had a youth exhibit, and there were some very nice pieces, and of course, some that were definitely not great pieces of art or very well made, but I have no problem with that because the kids tried and I figure they must have enjoyed making them if they put them in an exhibit. I chatted a bit with the woman who was manning (or should that be womanning?) the exhibit, and she said there was a little girl who came by and was incredibly excited to see her piece on display in a case, and was thrilled that she got a ribbon (all the kids got participation ribbons), and for that I would gladly look at a bunch of absolutely terrible pieces, it was just a plus that there weren’t any that I would say were terrible. I didn’t take many pictures of the youth exhibit though, lots of the pieces were very similar in a way that suggested they had been made in a class, so I took pictures of a few of the more unique pieces, cause I figured you guys won’t be interested to see a bunch of sloppy pieces that are all about the same.

Next is the clothing exhibit. I’m not really that in to clothes, unless they’re medieval clothes, in which case I get quite intrigued, but a few of the clothing pieces caught my eye as worth sharing.

And finally, the hooked rugs exhibit. This is the one I forgot I had taken pictures of, but it’s a good one. I have done a little bit of rug hooking and enjoyed it well enough, though I didn’t fall in love with either the process or the end product. But I really liked some of these pieces. I know I wouldn’t have the patience, and may not have the skill, to make most of these designs that I liked the best, but they’re just those pieces that inspire you and make you want to try the technique, convinced that the result will be amazing. I might try rug hooking again, I do have the hook tool now, but probably not for a while. And now I will stop rambling and show you the pictures!


Well, that wraps up my coverage of the Albuquerque (I’ll be glad not to have to type that anymore!) Fiber Arts Fiesta. It was a really fun event to go to, and I hope you enjoyed the pictures, but I’m ready to move on in my blogging. I think I’ve used up enough time, and I’ve got a bit more work done on various projects, so I’ll have something to post about. I’m going out of town this weekend so there won’t be any more posts until next week, but then I’ll give you an update on my two big knitting projects, the Dreambird and the Kimono Cardigan, and I have a needle felting project to share!

Book Illustrations

The book is almost finished! Which is good because theoretically the show it’s for goes up tomorrow :-/. I say theoretically because we’re sposed to be getting a winter storm starting around 4 am tonight and continuing all day tomorrow, so if there’s a storm the library will probably close and then we won’t hang the show until Monday. I wouldn’t mind that, I’m pretty sure I can get the book presentable by tomorrow but if I had the extra day I could get it really polished and to the point I want it at for display. I realized today that this is the biggest fiber project I have ever made. Not sure if that says more about the size of the project or my previous work, but there it is.


On to the progress. I got a LOT of work done today, and a bit over the last week. I’ve now finished all the illustrations in the book and have sewn the first two pages together! First, the one set of pages I haven’t posted about at all, the set that was supposed to have satin stitch lettering. I realized this week that there was no way I was going to get them finished with satin stitch so I pulled out what I had done on those pages and printed the words on fabric. It actually turned out looking rather neat.

The last few illustrations took the most time because there was a lot of couching and one is an actual embroidered piece to itself, but I’m quite happy with how all of them turned out.

The illustrations took most of my time today, but I did manage to get the first two pages sewn together. Assembling the book is something I’m very much improvising, so I’m quite pleased at how the first two pages sewn together turned out. But, by the time I was done with those it was 11 o’clock so I figured I better wait till tomorrow or I’m going to start really messing up.

And now time for bed so I can get up early (well early for me) and finish the book! Hopefully before it needs to go in the show…

Art from Earth from Above

Earth from Above is the title of multiple books by photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand which are collections of photographs he has taken from, well, above. I’m not sure if they’re taken from a plane or a helicopter, possibly both, but he was definitely flying when he took the pictures! The pictures are amazingly beautiful, but this post is about a show of fiber pieces inspired by the photos in Earth from Above. And in looking for another post I want to link to in the next paragraph I discovered I have already described the challenge quite a bit here.

September of 2011 at a quilt show in town is when I first heard about the challenge, and I think it’s when most of the first people involved heard about it as well. It was originated by a couple of my mother’s friends, and my friends too I guess, one of whom had found the books and was absolutely inspired by the pictures but decided she needed some help to make quilts out of all the pictures. So we all got started picking out pictures and ripping them out of the books to take home with us so they could inspire us (meanwhile the librarian and book lover in me cringed at ripping up books!). This is the challenge I created my Chocolate Hills piece for.

For about the last year this show has been displayed in several different venues (including, of course, Aunt Annie’s, the shop owned by one of the originators of the challenge) but for the first time it has come to my area and I got to see the whole thing together! Of course, I think that pretty much all the other pieces are way cooler and much better done than mine, but mine was the only piece with 3D needle felted parts! I gotta count the accomplishments where I can find them.

Anyway, the point of this post is not just to brag about my piece being in a gallery show, but to show you more of the pieces in the show. I went to an artist talk at the gallery today (it’s not quite midnight yet as I write this, so it’s still today!) and got to hear more about the processes of making the pieces from many of the artists, many of whom I know, and get some good pictures of the pieces. It was also interesting to hear the questions and get a perspective from people who are not fiber artists, mostly the gallery director. Of course that came with a little bit of the “fiber art isn’t really fine arts” vibe, but she was really very interested and sometimes we can’t help our prejudices. So here are some pictures and stories about the show!

Mary Ann had quite an interesting story about her piece, and a revelation about it too. She said when she walked in she saw the picture on the wall and thought it was her piece. Then one of the organizers asked if she wanted a picture with her piece and pointed at it, and she got confused because that wasn’t her piece! She had seen it and thought someone else had done a piece based on the same picture and, as she put it, “did a better job too”! So she realized that her piece is quite well done, and she really likes it. And we all got a good laugh. The piece itself is quite an interesting technique. It’s a bunch of little bits and pieces of fabric, which she put a fine mesh over to hold down. The original picture is of the destruction after the tsunami in Japan several years ago.


This is Claire with her piece (second down on the right) which is based off of a picture of an olive grove. I’m not sure what it is but this piece just intrigues me. I’m sorry there’s no close-up, I went back and took those afterwards and thought I got all the pieces that I had pictures of the artists talking about but I seem to have missed this one. The part of the piece that I think really just tickles me is that she used yarn to make little tufts to represent the individual trees. It’s just such a neat idea, and makes a lovely texture and dimension on the piece.

Debbie had several pieces in the show, but these are a couple of my favorites of hers. The one with all the circles is based off a picture of a crop circle and the fabric in the piece is all the same fabric, just used in different directions to give the illusion of different colors. I can’t think of the terms but it’s the type of fabric that if you look at it, or run your hand across it, in different ways the light hits it differently, because of the surface texture, so it looks like a darker or lighter color. I just love how that is the only differentiation in the piece, it’s like a real cornfield. And the shiny one is just neat and, of course, shiny. The picture is dead trees in water, I believe it’s a river, which is something we see a lot in this area, because of changing water levels, and I think is incredibly beautiful and eerie. And the piece just captures that perfectly.

In the challenge they tried to have people doing as many different pictures as possible, but of course there was some cross-over because it’s hard to keep track of who is doing what, and if a picture inspires you it inspires you, doesn’t matter if it also inspired someone else or not. So there were a few pairs of pieces both based on the same picture, which created an interesting insight into the creative process and gave different perspectives on the same picture. The first three pictures are a good example. The first picture is the photo that inspired both pieces, which is a picture of a graveyard surrounded by a ginseng field. They both have a pretty literal representation of the original photograph but one seems to have added in a symbolic element with the hand, and even the literal interpretations are quite different because of the materials and the textures those materials bring to the piece.

The last two pictures are actually the opposite, which just intrigued me. First is the inspirational photographs, which you may notice really only have flamingos in common. And second is the two pieces, which look incredibly similar. (the order of the pieces and the inspirational photographs is actually opposite, so the top inspirational photo goes with the bottom piece) One artist did a more literal representation of the photograph and the other artist chose to focus on the flamingos and create a piece that was more inspired by the photo than a literal representation. Coincidences like that just intrigue me, and the psychologist part of my brain starts to wonder about similar brain patterns and things like that.

And these are just two pieces I really liked and couldn’t resist posting pictures of, and then my piece, mainly because it looks very different hanging on a wall, so much so that I didn’t recognize it at first. The first piece I liked both because it was the only woven piece, and I just have to endorse weaving any chance I get, and because I look at the inspiration picture and I just see tapestry weaving, it’s just perfect for it. The second piece I just love because of the buttons. There’s some interesting symbolism in it and it’s a neat way to represent the stuff in the inspirational photograph, but I’m just gonna go with: BUTTONS!

The Inferno

Dante’s Divine Comedy is a three part work written by the 14th century Italian Poet Dante Alighieri that describes the poet’s journey through hell, purgatory and heaven. In my highschool the senior AP English classes read the Inferno, the portion of the work that describes Dante’s journey through hell. Once we read it we all make projects (either by ourselves or in pairs) that depict hell as described by Dante. It’s the big project of the year and everybody in the school knows about. It was always fun to watch in the mornings and see seniors bringing in their projects cause everybody wanted to make their project bigger or cooler than everybody else’s. In my junior year one of the seniors made a full working model of hell, complete with flame spurts and pools of water, it was pretty darn cool and quite popular. When I was a senior my friend and I teamed up and made a quilt for the project. It’s a huge quilt, probably 4 feet in diameter, and almost totally round. Well, maybe that’s not so huge for a quilt but it’s big for a totally round quilt! And we made it in about a day and a half. We got pretty lucky and had a Friday blizzard that was bad enough school was called off so my friend Liz got a ride over to my house and we spent the whole day working on it. Lots of the pieces are actually glued on and it’s definitely not a pinnacle of sewing or quilting art, but it’s pretty damn cool.

So, there are 9 circles in Dante’s version of hell, that all get colder as they get closer to the center. In the very center is Satan who is frozen in a lake of ice and the beating of his wings is what freezes everything. Being some sort of ultimate evil you’d think the guy might be smart enough to stop flapping his wings so the ice could melt, but that’s a different issue. Now, pictures! And I promise I won’t go through the meanings in all of the circles and sub-circles (partly cause I don’t remember them) but I just have to show some close ups of my favorite bits and the more famous bits from the story.

This is the full quilt, it hangs on the wall in my apartment. Actually it’s gotten a few comments from pizza delivery guys since you can see it from the door :-). Hanging it was a little tricky because it’s round, but I ended up sewing velcro onto the back and then I just stick the opposite side of the velcro to the wall. That seems to work quite well, although can be kind of hard on the paint when you pull the velcro off.

This is a close up of the forest that the story starts in and the vestibule, which is the little black dome shape. The forest and vestibule are the reason the quilt isn’t completely round, which annoys me sometimes, but it had to be there for the project and I’m not going to remove it now.

You can see the gates here (the red almost bridge-shaped piece) which, in the story, have the famous saying written on them “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”. Also the blue squiggly bit is the river Styx with Charon the ferry-man on it. Dante’s rendition of hell is not especially popular with the Catholic church, for reasons that become more and more obvious as you read the Inferno.

I like this bit. It’s the ivory tower in the first circle of hell which is for “virtuous pagans”. Various famous pre-christian philosophers are in this circle because they have to be in hell since they weren’t baptized but since they were “essentially good” they get to be right at the edge and get things easier. The picture is actually upside-down from the way I took it but when the quilt is hanging this bit of the quilt hangs upside-down, it wasn’t really planned out with the thought of hanging it.

This is one section of the eighth circle. The sections are referred to as bolgias, although I don’t remember which bolgia this is and I don’t even remember what the sin was supposed to be. I’m pretty sure the punishment is supposed to be what we think of as the standard punishment in hell, eternally burning in flames. I just love the faces on this one and how the flames came out. The flames were quite fun to do as well, and are in at least one more bolgia, which I didn’t take a close up of.

This is a cliff that separates the ninth circle from the rest of hell and which is guarded by giants, hence the figure there. For this bit we actually cut a hole in the batting so that the ninth circle is actually lower than the rest of the quilt and there’s a lip here. I am quite pleased that we managed to do it, and many thanks go to my mother for helping us to make it work right.

This is the ninth circle, which has four rounds. In the ninth circle all of the sinners are frozen into the lake of ice that is around Satan. The difference is in how much of their heads stick out. In the first round the heads and necks are out of the ice, in the second only the heads, in the third they’re frozen up to their eyes and their tears freeze on their cheeks (we put little beads on to symbolize the frozen tears) and in the fourth round they are completely frozen, so they are only outlines. I think this is one of the more polished looking circles on the quilt, and just one of my favorites, I don’t know why exactly.

And at the very center is our cute little Satan doll. I suppose cute is a strange adjective to use, but he is quite adorable. When the quilt is laying flat, which is how it was made, Satan actually stands straight up. Which means that when the quilt is hung up he kind of flops down, so I had to hold him up for the picture. He has three faces and there is a sinner in the mouth of each face. I know they’re the really big sinners and if I knew my bible stories better I’m sure I could give you all their names, but I’m pretty sure one is Judas, and that’s all I got.

At the end of the Inferno Dante climbs down Satan’s leg and emerges on a cave that turns out to be in purgatory. For the project we needed to include that as well so on the back of the quilt are two little legs sticking out and the mountains of purgatory are drawn on, but I couldn’t get the quilt down and turned over easily to take a picture of that bit, so you’ll have to take my word for it. I have to ask that you keep in mind this was a project for school and none of it reflects my beliefs. I also ask that you don’t think I’m too strange for having favorite parts of a quilt that depicts hell, I tend to think of it as just another quilt. Although I am a little weird :-), but that’s a different story.

Early beginnings

I’ve been around some amount of fiber arts my whole life. My mom is a quilter and has been for a long time, so she was always sewing on something. She taught me to sew long before I can remember and she owned a fabric store for a while, which we still visited a lot even after she sold it, so I spent a lot of time around fabric and buttons and sewing accouterments. I’m pretty sure I can attribute my love of buttons to this too. I still remember when we would go to the shop and I’d be bored so someone would take me back to the back room and give me this box of buttons to play with. I would happily sort them again and again, in many different ways, and always wished I could take those buttons home!

To get back on track, my mom’s hobby led me to making my first quilt when I was about 6 years old. I remember that I was bored, and my mom was in her work room, and I was annoying her, cause I was bored. So she handed me a piece of white fabric and a bunch of scraps, and told me to sew. So I sewed and sewed, and then put some buttons on it. And my mom put a backing on it for me, and voila! my first quilt. Which is named, aptly enough, the Button and Shape quilt. I’ve always been so creative with names, I’m sure you can tell. And here are pictures!

I’ve been trying different ways of doing the pictures in posts, including in this one. Please let me know what you think. Most of my early posts had the pictures as galleries which put them all on one line with smaller thumbnails. The last few posts have just had the pictures inserted which means they’re all on separate lines, take up a bit more space. I tried this one as a slideshow but the captions were an issue so I’m not sure about the slideshow, and I changed this post to a gallery.

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