Thursday, December 28, 2006

Two Birds with One Stone

I've signed on to participate in a couple of challenges in the new year. One is Sharon B's Take a Stitch Tuesday challenge. You can find the details on her blog, but she's going to post a stitch per week that participants can use and vary in a variety of formats. I'm going to be embellishing this piece for the challenge.

You'll notice that I used a Madonna photo transfer in the block. This is also going to be my last Madonna piece in the series I've been doing with Debra. We've blogged about the other pieces in the series at the Madonna Idea.

Ever the multi-tasker, this piece is also my first in the 12x12x12 Journal Quilt Challenge sponsored by the Quilt Studio webring. I like to be involved in these projects, and this is my way of concentrating my efforts. If you look carefully in the lower right of the block above, you can see the transfer outline of a hummingbird. My theme for this challenge is birds.

Here are some photos of the 8.5 inch block I embellished in Sharon's on-line encrusted embellishment class this fall. The class was full of very helpful design information. I got really good at French knots making those wisteria blossoms.

I really love doing this kind of work, and I'm anxious to get another block underway. In the meantime, I wonder what I'll do with this finished block. For now it's on my design wall inspring me.

Friday, December 22, 2006

San Francisco, part 2

One of the highlights of my recent trip to San Francisco was seeing the Gee's Bend quilt exhibit at the de Young Museum. When I was a kid I went to the old de Young on a regular basis: I'm a native, this is my home town. They had an extensive collection of Asian art housed in what must've been one of the orignial structures in Golden Gate Park, which was damaged beyond repair during the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. The new building stands at the site of the old structure, and is a shiny and very modern-looking state of the art building. The Asian art collection has been moved to a new museum downtown (which is on my list of things to see on my next trip).

We had excellent timing when we got to the quilt exhibit because a docent tour had just started. The docent was very well informed about the exhibit, and related a lot of annecdotes about the quilters and about their life circumstances. This information was handy for Michael, who knew nothing about this thing I'd dragged him 300 miles to see, but he quickly understood the context of the work and some of the reasons why so many people appreciate it.

The quilts were very moving for me to see. My favorite piece was a quilt made from work pants, with all the variations of wear and color. To me it was a testimony to the maker's creative will to make something she needed out of what was at hand, and of the asthetic spark in what seem to be the most utilitarian acts. These works have a vitality that is impressive, and I'm convinced that this is due in large part to the spontineity that comes with irregularly-cut pieces. I think we should all try to make something without using rulers just to see what happens. The use of "forbidden" fabrics like polyester and courduroy also adds energy to these quilts. I'm predicting a resurgence in the popularity of polyester myself. I think it is underappreciated. No photos were allowed in the exhibit, but Michael bought me the beautiful book that documents it.

The new museum is wonderful, and sports a funny-looking observation tower which has a panoramic view of the city.

Here are some scenes from the Japanese Tea Garden next door.

Here are a few seasonal scenes from Union Square.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Big 5-0

I had a birthday last week, the Big 5-0. I'm very happy to make this milestone. As I've been telling my family, it beats the alternative. Michael and I spent a wonderful time together last weekend in San Francisco celebrating our birthdays, which fall two days (and a few years) apart. I tell him that he's my spirit twin. Actually, I tell him I'm his evil twin. He so nice, he doesn't belive me. For my birthday I bought myself new glasses, which you can see in the photo. It was that or a tatoo, and I decided (for now) on the specs.

I'll post more about the trip later, but I want to show this wonderful gift my kids got me. I'd admired these vintage sewing boxes on EBay, and my clever kids bought me one, much to my surprise.

I put the tissue box there for scale. It's really huge, like a small table, and it opens out about to about five feet. I've put my knitting things in for now, but it's going to be great for crazy quilting and embroidery.

Here's a photo of the fingerless gloves I've been knitting as Christmas gifts. I don't know why it came out so fuzzy.

The pattern is from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts. I love it because the pattern calls for small amounts of different colored yarns. I knit another glove pattern in this magazine as well. I find gloves are great gifts, and can be made up even faster than scarves.

I'm in the midst of end-of-the-term grading, but I'll post more about my birthday trip soon. An important part of the trip was my visit to the Gees Bend quilt exhibit...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Happy Birthday Debra!

Happy Birthday to Debra our Quilt Studio fearless leader. I value your friendship, enthusiasm, and creative charisma. You're a great community builder for us on-line fiber afficionados. Enjoy your special day!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

WIP Wednesday

I finally remembered about WIP Wednesday. Somehow, Wedsnesday comes and goes and I remember when I don't have time to post, or when I can't find the camera, but this week I remembered. This pink and green quilt has gotten stuck at the sashing stage because I've been working on some Christmas gifts. I decided to quilt some of the finished tops I had in the closet and use them as gifts.

This Lanterns quilt is going to a dear friend. I pieced this top about 5 years ago (!) and then it hung in the closet unquilted. I think I was waiting to have more confidence as a quilter because I wanted it to turn out nicely. I did a simple quilt- next-to-the-ditch, and it suits the quilt nicely. When I saw my friend's new house, I knew she would enjoy it.

I also quilted these two table runners for gifts. The blue one was canibalized from a stack of finished blocks. I've got plenty more from which to make a large throw.

I quilted this little top, which is the size of a table cover. I don't have anyone in mind for this one, so I'm putting it aside for the moment. I may have to keep it for myself to use in my red kitchen.

It feels good to clear out some WIPs and even better to have handmade gifts to give to friends and family members.

Sweater Genesis

  A few years ago I learned to harvest yarn from old wool sweaters.  I don't do it so much anymore, with the exception of if I find...