Saturday, January 24, 2009

Free and Wonderful

I saw two very cool freebies on the web this week. First Kyra posted pdfs of Barbara Brackman's Obama fabric that you can download and print on your inkjet printer. The files produce two different sheets: one is a medallion with images of President Obama and Vice-President Biden in an Americana design. The other features images of Obama and George Washington. Remember to change the settings on your printer to the highest quality before printing for best results. I happened to have some fabric sheets handy, so I'll be making a block to commemorate the inauguration.

Also, Pink Penguin posted this wonderful downloadable pattern for a paper pieced tea pot and a detailed tutorial. Wouldn't these be fun to make in different novelty prints?

Happy sewing!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Wings to Fly (12 x12)

I finished another little quilt in my bird series. When I went to PIQF this summer I bought some fabric with images of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo on it. It also has little banners with quotes from her diaries. The banner I chose for the top translates: "Why do I need feet if I have wings to fly."

Frida has a fan-base all over the world. She was a woman who sought creativity and freedom and who battled the aftereffects of a crippling streetcar accident all her life, including infertility. The dramatic film of her life, Frida, in which she is played by Salma Hayek, is visually stunning, but it overemphasizes her relationship to her husband, the painter Diego Rivera.

In addition to the Frida cut-outs, I used a machine applique of birds that Debra gave me, and I set them on a vintage handkerchief. I attached the applique with French knots, which I also used to mark the edges of both the floral design and that nice moon-like circle in the background. I adhered Frida to the piece with good old-fashioned heat and bond. Then I embellished with beads, embroidery, and sequins.

I left the flounce of the skirt free, because it overhangs the edge of the hanky. I backed it with a scrap of fabric

and at the end I added a lace petticoat.

Frida was well known for wearing Mexican folk costumes. Adding sequins to the skirt made her outfit like the the costume of La china poblana, the national costume of Mexico, known for its elaborate embroidered and embellished skirt. The other banner in the piece says: "I feel like living, so I started to paint."

You can see how I lapped the hanky over the binding to preserve the rolled edge. This piece was a gift to my friend Leslie, a very talented painter and big Frida fan, who married her long-time partner recently. In California same-sex marriages were outlawed after the last election, so their union is not recognized by the state.

This was a fun project, very much like playing with paper dolls.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Thought Process

I had made four of these Mississippi Wheel of Fortune blocks--the design is by Karen Stone--some time ago. It's taken me until now to decide that I don't want to make any more, and so I'll make a small quilt and move on. I sashed the blocks and put on a wide black and white border. But then it looked a little unfinished to me.

So I cut up a bunch of 3.5" squares and created a new, more colorful border. And I auditioned an orange outer border.

And then I thought, but I've got plenty of fabric laying around, and I just cut a bunch of 2.5" strips. So I made blocks.

I'm encouraged in this move by the Material Obsession site. They have great eye candy, and I've noticed that a lot of the quilts I've found interesting on their site, instead of getting calmer as they move outward from the middle, seem to get busier and busier. We'll see what comes next. Bunny is helping me to think it over.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

There Will Be Afghans

Happy New Year to All. I hope 2009 is full of joy and creativity. I don't make new year's resolutions, but I wish myself the same: another year of joy and creativity in increasing doses.

I finished a quilt in the run up to Christmas. This one was for Michael, and I quilted a top I'd finished in 2007 featuring embroidered blocks Debra had sent me when she began her machine embroidery journey.

I layered it with a bamboo and cotton batt, which I liked a lot. It's light and drapey, and doesn't require very close quilting. Here's an old and very fuzzy shot of the top in progress.

I had to wrap the quilt before I got a proper photo of the whole thing.

I also knitted Allie this Vegan Fox stole for Christmas. The pattern is very fast and fun to knit. I'd never used fun fur, and it's actually kind of fun to knit up.

Then, between Christmas and New Year's Eve, I hit the road for a solo trip. First stop was a visit to my parents, sister and her kids. My nephew Nick, who lives in Los Angeles and works on the tech side of an insurance company, was visiting. Here he is with my mom. We all had a nice visit punctuated with too much food, and then it was time to go to San Francisco for a professional conference.

I stayed in SF with my friend Juanita and her husband Ian, and then I stopped in to visit my Auntie Nena and my cousin Mary Ellen.

Auntie Nena passed me her yarn stash. She was a dedicated crocheter for many years, and so she has the stash to show for it. "I had planned to make afghans," she said, "but then I decided I didn't want to."

Since "waste not, want not" is our family motto, she passed me four copy paper boxes full of yarn, nicely sorted by color.

Some of it was wool. Did you know that Sears had sold wool yarn? The rest is, of course, acrylic. I'm not a yarn snob, so I'll find projects that will make use of it, and what I don't use, I'll send to the local jail, where they teach women inmates to knit.

I'm excited to have received the legacy of busy hands from my aunt. It's also very sweet that she wanted me to have her stash, because she knows I'll make good use of it.

After our visit, complete with Mexican sweet bread, coffee cake, and canela, cinnamon tea, I hit the road again, and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge for the six hour drive home. It was an auspicious close to 2008, and I feel well supplied for a busy new year.

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...