Saturday, June 30, 2012

Spiderweb Quilt

I pulled out an old project to work on: a paper pieced spiderweb quilt.  I made one of these with purple stars for my daughter years ago, and I chose a cheerful yellow for this one.

The spiderweb quilt is one of my favorites.  I love the variety of fabrics one can use.  I have seen people cut the spiderwebs from pieced strips, which would make it go faster, but I'm doing mine the old school way, which creates more variety.  I have saved up lots of scraps over the years, and I like how they make a kind of  journal.  I still run across snippets of fabric I used to make clothes for my kids when they were little, so this is a memory quilt of projects going way back in time.

I organize my small scraps roughly by size, and then pull from the pile as I piece these blocks. I'm using a paper piecing pattern from an old issue of Quick Quilts, a special issue of Quilt magazine.

We'll see how many blocks I can make before I run out of enthusiasm and put it aside again.  But I really would like this quilt for my bed.  I may have to load up a good audio book--I already have Hardy's Return of the Native on my ipod--and get in the zone.  Otherwise, I'm fighting back the "are we there yet?" feeling and thinking of how this might make a nice table runner.

Monday, June 25, 2012


I finished my June CQJP block early.  We had a couple of days of rain last week--heck it's raining now--so I just kept stitching.  Now that Mad Men and Game of Thrones are done for the season, I picked a new series to watch on my computer while I sew: True Blood on HBO, a campy vampire saga.  Tell me I'm not the only one who likes bad TV.

At the top of the block in pink is the cabled chain stitch, the TAST from last week, which I did in zig zag.  

I did a bullion rose cluster above the cardinal.

I may re-do this pigeon's outline from feather stitch to something that stands out more, otherwise this block's done and I've reached season 2 of True Blood.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Travelogue: Nice

 We spent a relaxing weekend in Nice. We had breakfast one morning on the Mediterranean.

The town is full of old buildings painted in pastel colors.  That's Michael in the yellow shirt in the foreground.

The flower and produce market was very photogenic.

I'd never seen tomatoes quite like these.  There was also cheese, soap, spices...

...and many flavors of sugar.

This bouquet of garlic almost looks like a bunch a flowers.

I spent a lot of time scanning buildings for interesting details.

We attended a concert in Notre Dame Cathedral.

 Our big excursion in Nice was to the Chagall Museum, in which he installed, before his death, a series of paintings based on Old Testament stories.  It was a moving experience, and I didn't take any pictures there, as I didn't want any filter between me and the works.  So many things defy photography.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

May CQJP Block and Buttonhole Wheels

I caught up with the CQJP challenge and finished my May block.

On the blue patch I did the butterfly stitch from last month's TAST challenge.  I took out a bag of crewel embroidery thread, which I used here to tie the "butterflies."  I'll be using this more, it adds some nice texture.  I added minimal seam embellishments behind the vine, just to balance things out.

I figured out the knotted cretan stitch, shown above in coral, and embellished it with some French knots and lazy daisy stitch.  I found this birdcage in the jewelry section of a craft store, and hung it from the vine.  It's pinned in place temporarily, and I'll stitch it down when I piece the final project together.

Here's my semi-naked June CQJP block.  The cardinal print was a gift from Debra.

In stitching the buttonhole wheels, I stitched it once in a dark gold crewel thread, and then repeated the stitch over the completed wheel with a lighter gold thread.

The hand is also a jewelry component.  I'm going to figure out a way to camouflage the rings at either end of the piece.

...Some half wheels.

Not a bad start on this block.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Knitted Cardigans from Reclaimed Wool

I live in a climate where I always need some kind of sweater at some point in the day and  I recently finished knitting two new additions to my sweater wardrobe.  They both started its life as a 100% wool bulky pullover that  someone hand knit for the South American tourist trade.

When I saw it at the thrift store I knew it was too heavy for anyone to wear around here as a cabled pullover, so I brought it home, unraveled it, and gave it a koolaid dye bath. I wrote a tutorial for koolaid dying in an earlier post.  My favorite tutorial for unraveling sweaters for their yarn is here.

The yarn was a nice fluffy single, with no twist.

This reclaimed sweater yielded what seems to be an infinite supply of yarn.  I didn't dye it all, but most of the yarn I dyed blue went into knitting Abbi: Shawl Collar Cardigan, a pattern I bought on Ravelry.

This has turned out to be the most comfortable sweater and it has a slightly retro 60s look to it.

Some of the undyed yarn went into my Mitered Threesome cardigan, which you can see here drying on the floor after some mild blocking. 

I fell in love with this pattern when it was featured on the cover of Love of Knitting magazine in Spring 2011.  The pattern calls for multiple yarns in different weights, and so I cleared some small amounts of wool from my stash that were too small to be knit into a sweater by themselves.

Of course there's STILL more of the bulky reclaimed wool.  We'll see were its reincarnation takes it next.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Deja Vu

I'm catching up with the CQJP, stitching my May block with the TAST stitches from last month.  There on the bottom you can see that I did a half chevron stitch seam embellished with buttons.  The little yellow bird is being auditioned for that spot.  It's the bird or a red poppy, I haven't decided yet.

I used bullion stitch to add fanciful flowers to a branch that frames the white crane.  I like bullion stitch, it has a nice rhythm to it once you get going.  I added glass leaf-shaped beads instead of embroidering them.

The basic design for the branch comes from this 1970s-era crewel embroidery book.  I've added this to my collection in the past few years, but I know we also had one of these at home when I was growing up.

I stitched this vine motif when I was a teenager.  This piece of crewel embroidery was turned into a pillow and then had an unfortunate run through the laundry, but I still have it.

 It was an important learning piece.  Instead of the original poem I substituted a stanza (it continues on the back) of W.B. Yeats' "The Lake Isle of Innisfree."  Here's the whole poem:

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
You can hear a recording of Yeats reading the poem here on  His lovely
recitation sounds like singing.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Travelogue: Barcelona

Michael and me on the roof of the Cathedral of Barcelona

Right after the semester ended Michael and I left on our anniversary trip to Europe.  We feasted our eyes (and our stomachs too) in Barcelona, Nice, and Florence.   I'm sure part of it is that everything was new to me, but I kept seeing one strikingly beautiful thing after another.

One of the first places we visited was La Boquería market where produce, candy, meat and fish were artfully arranged and very photogenic.  The colors and textures were very seductive and we ended up taking bags of goodies back to our apartment.

Griffins (?) on the roof of the Maritime Museum

Barcelona is an old city, founded by Roman soldiers around 15 BC as a military outpost.  Remnants of the original city wall, built in 350 AD, can be seen in various places in the old city.  Different styles of architecture from diverse periods in history can be seen side by side.

Doorway in the Barri Gotic

Sculptural medallion on the Teatre Principal
 I'm a closet history buff, and the history of Barcelona is fascinating to me.  One of the best museums we saw was the Museu d'Historia de Barcelona on the Plaça del Rei, next to the Cathedral.  They have an extensive excavation of a Roman site under a medieval palace, and you can see the way one era's structures are layered over another.  Interestingly, part of the Roman ruins included a textile dye works, weaving equipment, and a laundry: yes, the important stuff.

Upstairs, in the palace part of the museum, was an exhibit on the importance of calico or "indianes" production to the economic development of the city. 

Cathedral of Barcelona
 We visited the Cathedral of Barcelona twice.  It's an imposing structure begun in 1298, and built over several centuries.

The interior is almost completely accessible to tourists, unlike other major churches we visited on our travels.  The video screens you see in the picture above remind visitors how to behave in church.  No kidding.

We took the elevator to the roof for a panoramic view of the city and for a close-up of the spires of the cathedral.  

Among Barcelona's architectural  claims to fame is the Modernista movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Modernisme is Catalan Art Deco.  We went to a concert at the Palau de la Música Catlana, an excellent example of the style.

Ceiling detail, Palau de la Música Catalana

Ceiling detail
You gotta love people that decorate their buildings with flowers.

detail, Casa Lleó Morera, Lluis Domenech i Montaner, architect, 1864/1902

Another architectural bauble
And of course there were many Madonnas. 

Here's my favorite of the Barcelona bunch: Mare de Déu del Carme, taken in Santa María del Pi church. 

I'll be back more regularly now, with more stitching and with the rest of this travelogue.