Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hoop Dreams

I'm ready to make an original embroidery project again. Last year I started a 12x12 series on birds that I'm going to continue into this year. I had designed a piece a couple of months ago, but I hadn't started because I was stuck on how to solve one design problem: how to incorporate text into the piece.

I was re-inspired to tackle this challenge after an email conversation with JoWynn. I don't quite have it figured out, but I've got two strong alternatives, so I'm going to go ahead and start.
Before I designed this piece I read this embroidery book by Elsa Williams. I'm constantly inspired by the fiber work in books from the 60s and 70s, and Elsa Williams's books are still widely available and offer a wealth of design inspiration and technical knowledge.
This book is on crewel embroidery, but the designs are easily transferable to other embroidery media.
Aren't these leaves and stems wonderful? They remind me of Jane Sassaman's recent designs. When I read the book, the spine broke, so I'm planning to have it spiral bound at the copy store.

I designed my piece by combining Elsa Williams's Jacobean botanical designs with my own study of botanical prints of chile plants. I've begun with some leaves. That's a herringbone stitch in the outer layer of the leaf design.
You can't see the background print very well since I'm stitching my design through water-soluble stabilizer. And where are the birds?
I'm using a vintage shirting fabric for this piece, and the birds are in the background.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Week in Review

I'm still knitting infant socks and hats for the Afghans for Afghans project. I'll probably make up a couple of more things and then pack up my donations and get them into the mail at the end of the week. Doing all this knitting has reminded me that one reason I started quilting is that machine work is easier on the joints. I've enjoyed these small portable projects for a good cause, but I really have to take lots of breaks to prevent my wrist from complaining too much.

Thrift store shopping is of course much easier on the joints. I recently came across a bag of packages of rick rack. I love these labels. You can tell the age of these packages by the prices. These 10-cent packages have gone up quite a bit in recent times.

I've designated an old cookie tin as my rick rack box. With all this rick rack, I may have to work on my Mississippi Wheel of Fortune blocks again.
I've done another bee block from the vintage embroidery patterns. I like the way these bees are shown helping each other and the way that the male and female bee are both portrayed doing domestic chores together. This seems pretty enlightened for the time these patterns were originally drawn.
Look, there's a baby bee in the hive. Is that cute or what?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Birthday Quilts

Michael's son and daughter-in-law recently had their first baby, a boy they named Emil. Michael spent several days with them helping out and bonding with the baby, his first grandchild. They live several hours away, so I stayed home and made this quilt.

I don't have a good photo of it, but I cut apart the pages of a cloth book panel, sashed them, and used coordinating fabric for the border. I don't know what to call my relationship to this baby, but Mimi Kirchner recently posted a picture of her lovely Fairy Grandmother doll, and I'm thinking that's what I'll be, the Fairy Grandmother.

Today Allie's boyfriend Roger turned 21, and she said he would like a quilt for his birthday.
I pulled out this top from my UFO closet, gave it an orange backing and some simple straight quilting. It was pretty quick and painless, especially since I used flannel sheeting for the batt, which requires minimal quilting. This was helpful since it's a pretty big quilt, about 85 x 90.

I'm still knitting baby hats and socks for the Afghans for Afghans project, and I figure I'll make as many as I can before the February 29 deadline. However, I saw this wonderful Flickr page of vintage embroidery patterns posted by meggiecat and I had to start some simple outline embroidery blocks.
I'm going to embroider several different bee blocks with black outline stitch and set them in black and white blocks with yellow accents. Now how cool is that?

Sunday, February 03, 2008


I got an itch to do a quick project, so I took out some balls of 3/4 inch strips I'd made of ugly fabrics I didn't have a use for and made these little rugs. I think I used a size P crochet hook.
And I'm making progress on my scrap quilt. I've got the whole center sewn together and next I'll make up the borders.
This is a shot of the whole thing. You'll notice that on the right side the contrast is lower. I made those blocks first, and after I pieced those rows, I thought the pattern looked muddy. So on the rest of the blocks I used strictly darks and lights and left the mediums out altogether. I was happy to realize that if most of the quilt had a high contrast, the eye sees the pattern in the muddier part as well.
I'm making some baby hats and socks for the Afghans for Afghans project. They are currently collecting wool items for newborns for the CURE hospital in Kabul. Their deadline is February 29 and you can find out more details by following the link to their site. They also have links to sources for appropriate patterns.

I heard an interview with the organizers of this project on the Craftypod podcast right after I had sorted through a large tote bag of odd balls of wool, so I was more than ready to go. I finished this baby hat and I began a baby sock made from this vintage yarn.

This yarn isn't original to my stash, but it's one of those goodies my mom picks up for me at yard sales or thrift stores. See the original $1.39 price tag? When was the last time we could buy 3.5 oz. of wool for this price?Of course, the stylish color way is priceless.

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...