Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Quilt mojo is a very delicate thing.  Because of its portability, my knitting has won out over quilting recently, but now that summer's here, my quilt mojo has returned.

First, I had a long-standing UFO, my Hat Box quilt (design by Kaffe Fassett), quilted by my pal Debra Dixon.  Debra does high quality affordable machine quilting.  I scrolled through my photo library to find these 2009 pictures of the finished top, which I made from a couple of books of home dec fabric samples.

Hat Box Quilt (detail)

Voila!  The quilted and bound quilt.  It's hard to photograph because it's big and it's cloudy here today.

Here it's draped on a king sized bed.  I'm very happy with the completed quilt.

 Since I was digging through the stash for binding fabrics, I found a piece of fleece perfect for a baby quilt back, and a pack of fat quarters in grey and white.  I also had a perfect piece of yellow gingham.

In a few days I had the baby quilt done.  Here you can see it with the inspirational fleece backing. 

Once I started digging through my stash, the creative wheels started to turn.  There are more quilts in the works...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Machine Embroidered Blouse

At Mitla

Michael and I were fortunate to have spent ten days in Oaxaca, Mexico recently.   Oaxaca is a city in southern Mexico with a rich combination of peoples and languages, and with an equally rich textile tradition.  Embroidery and weaving are important parts of several indigenous groups as well as part of the mestizo population

I noticed women in public embroidering printed tablecloths like the ones above, which I photographed at the Sunday market at Tlacolula.  I also saw a woman selling these tablecloths from a street stall in the center of Oaxaca.  While we were there there was an on-going protest of teachers in the main part of town, and I noted that a number of them embroidered as they occupied the zocalo.

Women of all social classes wear embroidered blouses, and some of the styles are associated with specific indigenous groups.  Blouses are available in a range of price points from the 10 dollar blouses sold on the street, to elaborately hand embroidered blouses sold for hundreds of dollars in chic boutiques.  Aprons are also worn in public by indigenous women as well as by middle class mestizo housewives, often with detailed embroidery.

There's an impressive textile museum in Oaxaca, with examples of embroidery done by women in the region going back to the 1700s.  I noticed a blouse that incorporated both hand and machine stitching, the machine stitches were free form embroidery used to fill in empty space. 

All this reminded of an unfinished project I began months ago with Debra Dixon, who does machine embroidery on commission and who has a line of embroidered aprons.  After some brainstorming back and forth, I cut out a blouse pattern I found the rough sketches of on the internet, and sent her the relevant pieces for her to machine embroider.

You can see how I marked and made notes on the fabric

The pattern was a good starting point, but I had to Mac Guyver the underarm gussets and the skirt pleats to make everything fit through the bust.  

I love these vibrant colors!  The blouse remained unsewn for months since it was too cold to wear it at home, but now that summer's here, and with renewed inspiration, it was time for its debut.

The possibilities for machine-embroidered garments are endless.  I'm inspired to considered some new ideas for embroidered blouses, both in folkloric and in contemporary styles.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Weaving with Self-Striping Sock Yarn

I wanted a large shawl for an upcoming trip, so I warped my rigid heddle loom with some inexpensive self-striping sock yarn.  This one is Sensations Truly Pattern, sold at JoAnn Fabrics, a blend of wool, nylon and rayon.  I threw in a few stripes of 100% wool in a light blue to make sure I'd have enough stripped yarn to warp the whole loom.

While I weave I get in a few hours of junk television watching, and listen to a few podcasts.  Lately I've been listening to the New Yorker Fiction podcast, which features the reading of one short story and its discussion in each episode.

Then suddenly, the shawl is done!  For the weft I used Yarn Art Kid Mohair Transparent, a blend of mohair and acrylic, that I got on clearance.  This shawl should be warm as well as light weight.

I used a fringe twister to finish the fringes, and ran the shawl through a delicate machine was and dry.  It's ready to go for my summer travels.

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...