Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fabric Dyeing & String Quilt Layouts

Today was very productive! I dyed about 32 yards of fabric and enjoyed it immensely.

I had to work indoors because it was in the 40's today. Procion MX dyes don't like to be cold, so these are resting in the dining room tonight and will get rinsed and washed in the morning.

I also spent yesterday and this morning photographing string quilt blocks in an array of layouts; they'll be used in my string quilt programs and workshops. You've seen these blocks recently as my nephew's college quilt. Each block is a square with strings sewn on the diagonal. This is just one of many, many kinds of string blocks. In the photos below I have manipulated the blocks, but the blocks themselves can also be manipulated for even more layouts. For example, using one color for the center diagonal fabric will give a very different look to each of these layouts.

This was the layout my nephew AJ chose for his quilt blocks...

I call it zig-zag, but it has a great 3-dimensional quality.

Here are a bunch more layouts I tried with these same blocks...

I saw the above pattern in a 1920's or 30's movie on a huge wooden door.

This one is simple but with the right fabrics it can be very special...perhaps a waterfall or field of wild flowers and grass.

This is a variation of the zig-zag with a twist: squares on the sides.

These two geometric layouts (above and below) are my favorites.
And lastly we have the simple "on point" layout. The squares can also be sewn with horizontal strings, but having them on point gives a different feel to the quilt.
Can you see from this layout how strings are different from strips. These strings read as movement...perhaps a running stream.

I LOVE string quilt blocks!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Heady Art

My husband Bill has been getting more and more artsy in the last year. He has made some wonderful rust dyed fabric, inventive stands from discarded items for our vendor booth, and last week he made a wonderful display table for the living room.

Our friend Eileen gave us this amazing piece of driftwood earlier this year. Bill sealed it and had it on display in the living room, but wasn't pleased with the display...

...so he designed and made this table from discarded hardwood steps.

The center, stabilizing piece of wood is one of the steps, and the two leg sections were cut from other steps. He then applied some of his father's copper nails and other copper pieces to enhance the look of the wood. It's all topped off with a custom cut Plexiglass top.

Good job!

Holiday Week

Okay, yes, I am working on some creative projects, but at this point it's all about scouring 500 yards of fabric to prepare it for dyeing. The process is not picture worthy, so I'll share some photos from our holiday week in Largo, FL.

Ah, we're in Florida...Spanish moss and palmetto plants (not pictured) mark the crossing into the state.

...and of course the palm trees.

This scene is in Clearwater, FL along the waterfront. Check out this fabulous tree in the background.

Sadly, I have not one photo of friends to share. It's easy to forget the camera when the company is good.

Here's a photo of a visiting egret looking for lunch in the form of lizards in the bushes.

It's difficult to get into the holiday spirit in Florida because it feels like summertime (I grew up in New England), but in the evenings the neighborhoods were full of twinkle lights and holiday spirit.

The sunset on the drive home was outstanding. These were taken as we drove...after 10 hours of driving we didn't want to stop even for photos.

On to the new year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

AJ's Blocks are Done!

I finished the blocks for AJ's college quilt this afternoon! The blocks are 8" square, or 7 1/2" with seams, so the finished center will be 60" x 67 1/2". After Christmas I'll add borders to make it a full/queen size.

Here's a close-up of the blocks before sewing...

The white dotted circle fabric adds a bit of whimsy to an otherwise dark quilt.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Back in the Game

It has been a wonderful week without crutches. The AJ quilt continues to grow as I am working on the last, really, the last 9 blocks. Amanda Whitsel will baste it for me on her long arm machine and then I'll start quilting on it, hopefully in January.

We've been thoroughly enjoying our evenings this season. I've hemmed pants, beaded on fabric, roasted marshmallows and cut fabric while enjoying the warmth of the fire. Ah, what could be better than a cold evening with your Honey by the fire?

On Friday, 500 meters of fabric arrived at our door in preparation for our Pensacola Quilt Show vendor booth in February 2010. We had planned to have 5 or 6 months to dye fabric for it, but now, following my broken hip and repair surgery, we have 2 1/2 months. Huh. We're about to get quite busy!

I've already scoured 100 meters (109 yards) of fabric in the last 3 days...

These are half-yard pieces so far.

My plan is to have a photo of the completed blocks for the AJ quilt by tomorrow. Before sewing them together, I'll rearrange and photograph the blocks for my new slide presentation for my String Quilt Block class and program. Yes, you heard it here...I'm leaving the comfort of my flip chart for the digital fun of slide presentations! Please wish me luck.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Bakers Look Here

This morning as I was checking out the latest scoop from friends on Facebook when I clicked on a link from Candied Fabrics which took me to @MayaDonenfeld 's Milk Carton Cookie Containers (link below). I clicked on a few links and found another absolutely wonderful blog that you'll love. They are both blogging about holiday baking and how to wrap it up.

maya*made 's blog has wonderful recipes and much, much more including crafty ideas. Check out maya's milk carton cookie container here.

maya*made then linked to a fabulous blog called LollyChops . Lolly is a "green" crafter who gives free PDF files for printing wrapping paper, labels and containers for gifts and much more!

I hope you like these blogs as much as I do.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Re-use, Recycle

My hip is getting better and I have been able to sew more easily this week. Yes!

Here's an update on the string quilt for my nephew AJ...

I keep thinking that it's nearly done and then I realize that it needs one more row.

While working on the string blocks, I have been compiling small centers for non-traditional log cabin blocks from the tiny scraps. I have about twice as many blocks started as you see on this wall below, so it's a good start to another quilt or two. My friend Frances says that these are called crumb quilt blocks in the UK. This is a wonderful way to recycle those tiny scraps because they are already color coordinated. Also, by making a log cabin block I can use the tiny pieces in the center and use larger leftover pieces as the block gets bigger. The smallest piece in these crumb blocks is about 1/2 inch wide.

Chain piecing the crumb blocks saves thread when, rather than cutting the thread after each of the string blocks, I chain piece crumb scraps to sew instead. The next string block is chained after a crumb. I can then trim off the regular block without wasting 3 or 4 inches of thread each time.

This week I went through the multitude of holiday catalogs that arrived in November. We never see most of these during the year, but come November they all find us. When time allows, I leaf through and cut out any photos that spawn ideas for quilts, color combinations, beading designs and felted pieces...then the paper is off to recycling.

Monday, December 7, 2009


My goals for each day this week:

1) sew each day

2) bead on a project each day

3) prepare for a class and a program in January

These are some fabrics I painted for the January class...

...and I've finished a few more blocks for AJ's quilt. This one has yet to be trimmed...

I'll work on a beading project while we watch DVD's of Northern Exposure tonight, so it has been a successful day.

Hint: The shorter the list, the more easily I am satisfied and anything else I do is extra!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Potholder Gift

This week I received a lovely surprise of two handmade potholders from my Aunt Theresa. She has always been a wonderful crafter, so I'm very pleased to own two more examples of her work.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

He's There

Finally heard from the soldier man today. He made it to his destination just fine. Settling in for some months.

This photo is of Bry in Europe hiking and mountain climbing with his buddies earlier this year.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Today's Progress

This is a bag of yarn that I bought at Yarn Paradise in the Biltmore area of Asheville, NC this week. They will be used to make some light and bright cinnamon roll pincushions to sell at the Pensacola (FL) Quilt Show in Feb. 2010.

AJ's quilt has been moving along. I finished 20 blocks today and started 15 more to finish the center of the quilt. This isn't necessarily the layout I'll sew, but it's how the blocks went up on the wall. I'll give AJ some choices on the layout.

I also sewed some new borders onto this Blue Star Banner. A Blue Star Banner is hung in a window to signify that a household has a family member at war. It hung in our window for our son Bryan's first deployment to Afghanistan and it's hanging again starting this week for his second deployment.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Two-Day Trip

We had a sweet little 2-day trip Monday and Tuesday to Asheville, NC, one of our favorite places. After a month of mostly staying home, Bill and I were both ready to break out, so we headed north to the mountains...

We drove north to western NC and then east on I-40 for a view of the Great Smokey Mountains and the mountains surrounding Asheville.

Ooooh, Asheville! Some of our favorite people and places live here. On this trip we visited places...Mr. K's Used Books in East Asheville, Green Life (whole foods), the Habitat for Humanity store, Yarn Paradise, Tupelo Honey's restaurant, and Earth Guild for art and fiber supplies. I had to skip the wonderful Waechter's Fine Fabrics this time.

If you're of a certain age (my age) you know what this next photo is, and you've probably been wondering about its secret location for decades...

FYI, its off of I-26 in western North Carolina, south of Asheville. Shhhhh.