Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Locker Hooking

I've been fascinated with locker hooking since Vicki posted about her project some time ago. It's a craft where you take strips of fabric, "hook" them through a mesh canvas, and then "lock" them down by running a cotton string through the loops. There's not a lot on information on locker hooking on the web, but this site, which sells supplies, including patterns, also has a very useful tutorial that can get you started.

You use up a lot of strips of fabric in this craft. I of course have lots of fabric, and some of it is even already in strips, but instead, I'm using up old cotton curtains, sheets and pillowcases that are worn thin, faded, or even holey. It's easy to cut the 1" strips with a rotary cutter and ruler.

I ordered my canvas and needle from an eBay vendor. It was a big canvas, so I cut it in half for my first rug. I like the way these random colors work together. For my next rug I will probably use the pre-printed grid to do a checkerboard or other similar pattern. A lot of simple quilt patterns could easily be used to make patterns.

Other items one could make with this craft include place mats, table runners, and handbags. I find it relaxing and easy to do. Working a random pattern like this one takes little thought.

I've seen starter kits with a locker hooking needle and canvas bundled with recent books on Amazon. That would be another way to get started. You probably have plenty of fabric strips itching to be rugs too.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Brief Vacation

Last week Michael and I went to San Francisco for a little getaway. We had a great time, and took a lot of photos at the Conservatory of Flowers, a historic structure in Golden Gate Park. Here are a few shots.

You should be able to click on these photos to make them bigger.

On the first day of our trip we saw a wonderful exhibit of work by Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams at SFMOMA, so we were primed to take these nature photos.

We saw a fabulous exhibit of photographic portraits by Richard Avedon that spanned the period of the 60s to the 2000s at the same museum.

While we were filling up our cameras' memory cards, there was a loooong line of people across the road waiting to get into the King Tut exhibit.  We felt very clever for being in the Conservatory instead of in the Tut line.  

I think I enjoyed the architechture almost as much as the beautiful tropical plants and flowers

This leaf picture is for Allie Aller who's incorporating the most interesting leaves into her current CQ project, inspired by a vintage piece.

Here's a virtual corsage for my virtual pals.  May your days be filled with beauty.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Art for Your Kitchen Table

Tablecloths always remind me of my maternal grandmother. She often had beautifully starched printed 40s and 50s tablecloths on her kitchen table. To me her tiny immaculate kitchen was a place of peace and well-being, a place of good food and order, and tablecloths trigger those associations for me.

Now I have my own collection of 40's and 50s tablecloths, and I've decided to make several of my own. Quilted table cloths are art for your kitchen. I don't know about you, but I don't have much wall space in my kitchen, but I have a big green table that is the perfect place for a rotating series of quilted kitchen art.

Bird Quilt (39X39) is made with embroidered pieces from Debra Spincic's Etsy store of beautiful machine embroideries. She has a wide and varied selection of pieces: borders, motifs, word tapes, and other beautifully executed and high quality items. There's a link button to Debra's shop in my sidebar.

These bird blocks remind me of those old state bird transfer embroideries. I have a set of those transfers, but buying these blocks from Debra made the quilt much easier to finish. Embroidered motifs make excellent blocks to alternate with pieced blocks.

I added machine embroidery to the bird blocks with my Janome, but Debra can add borders to these blocks. The word tapes, embroidered on twill tape, are going to be a feature in several quilts that I'm designing right now.

Because this quilt is designed for a table, it has no batting, and is sewn together like a pillowcase and turned--it has no binding.

A cheerfully embellished kitchen table can make your day.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Scrap Management

The question of the month over at Quilt Studio asks members to share their storage strategies. Be sure to check out how some quilters create order from the creative chaos of their studios.

Being of the thrifty/recycling-oriented variety of quilter, a lot of what I use to manage my supplies are repurposed items from thrift stores. I got this vintage wicker picnic basket last week for $2-- it was half off day for teachers and students.

I'm planning to put my tiny scraps in it, though right now it's on top of the wardrobe in my room, because wicker is to cats what bubble wrap is to some people: it makes their paws itch for destruction. Louie especially finds all wicker items to be scratching posts in disguise, and I've got a shredded wicker trunk in my sewing room closet to prove it.

I have been diving into the scrap bins and making some scrapy blocks with no specific project in mind. I find that one organizational strategy is to make blocks when the scrap drawers won't close easily any more. I've got my scraps divided into two drawers: one with strips and one with chunks. From the small strips I'm making up some spiderweb blocks. I've made a spiderweb quilt in the past, and I got the itch to make another one.

These 4.5 inch scrappy log cabins are being stitched together haphazardly from the smallest scraps. I'm trying to use bright colors and some black, but otherwise, it's a free for all.

I like wooden boxes, and I'm using this one to hold my paper piecing foundations

See- through plastic salad containers are great for holding supplies for individual projects.

They have lids and can be stacked.

And I love tins, especially for button storage, and I have them in all sizes and colors. I bought some terrible cookies one year just for these tins. There is something inherently cheerful about them, and each one seems to promise something wonderful's inside.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Easy Shawl

I made this shawl for my sister for her birthday--it's one with a zero in it, but I'm not saying anything else in that regard. The pattern, Clara Parkes' The Secret of the One Skein Shawl is available free on the web.

I knit this shawl from two skeins of Red Heart Soft, which my mother gave me several years ago. It's an acrylic that feels a bit like cotton to me. To permanently block acrylic (so that it retains its drape and shape) I pin the article out to the size and shape I want, and gently press (not iron) it through a wet cloth, . Once it's blocked, acrylic will retain its shape forever, so it can easily be machine washed and dried. Natural fibers have to be re-blocked each time you wash them.

This ease of care, and its ready availability at thrift stores and garage sales, makes acrylic yarn a good choice for some projects. There's also a lot of it already floating around in the world, and if you find the right project for old acrylic, I say knit 'em if you got 'em.

I'm developing a real love for knitting shawls. Simple patterns yield very nice results, and there is something meditative about the repetitive plain stitching. This particular pattern is knit from the top down, and the predictability of the increases is meditative. It's excellent TV/ movie/ reading knitting.

Friday, July 03, 2009

The Doll Palace

I've finished the exterior face lift on the doll house. I ended up painting it the same colors of my real house. This is both because I have leftover paint, and because I love these colors. The doll house will not, however, be a facsimile of my real house. It will have fewer cats and no grown kids living in it.

It has a little side yard that I fenced and re-surfaced. I like having a clothes line, so I added one of those.

Here's how the patio originally looked. Who has a hardwood floor on their patio?

I used self-stick sandpaper squares to make "tiles." The little trellis and the fence were made from craft wood pieces. I'm now the master of wood glue.

It was quite the sight when I attached the shutters.

Masking tape--used here to hold things together until the glue sets--is now one of my favorite tools.

For now the doll house resides behind my chair in the living room. Once I order the new staircase I will start on the interior makeover. This has been fun. I can't wait to finish this remodel so I can rearrange the tiny furniture.