Welcoming Myself Back

April 25, 2007

Okay, here I am, finally back at if after too long away. I could use many excuses for taking so long to get back to my blog. First, I could say it was Christmas, and there was a need to keep my projects secret until after then, but that was long ago and certainly doesn’t hold any water at this point. I could say I’ve been busy, but I’m always busy, so that one really won’t do it, either. So, no excuses, I’m just glad to get back to it. I wrote the opening two paragraphs once already this morning, but WordPress decided to have it for breakfast and I’m starting over.

Below is a photo of a jacket I made for my mother while I was visiting her last month. Like most of my projects, there’s a story behind the garment. I was looking at garments in the Lorraine Torrance booth at the Sewing & Stitchery Expo in Puyallup, Wash. in early 2005. I was standing around mostly yawning while my mom tried on some jackets when the Quattro Curves jacket caught my eye. Mom’s Red JacketThe sample in my size was done in rayon batiks with a solid navy blue for the main part of the jacket. It looked great, hung beautifully, and while I don’t remember for 100% sure whether the sample was for sale, if it was, I should have bought it. Being the maverick that I am, I almost never want to exactly recreate something, but this one was an exception. I didn’t buy the batiks right then and there, as I should have, because I was sure I could easily find them elsewhere at the show or in Seattle’s fabric shops. Wrong. Wrong. Really, really wrong. We spent the rest of the weekend looking and calling around asking about rayon batiks, and I still came home empty handed. While scouring about Seattle looking for the rayons, we did find some lovely cottons for mom’s jacket however. Here I am, two years later, with one completed jacket. Not mine, though. I am happy to say I did find the rayon batiks I wanted this year while I was at the Expo, having made the search for such a priority. It will be quite some time before I get mine started even, but such is life. My mother tells me regularly that she receives many compliments when she wears the jacket, including an electrician who offered to trade his entire tool box for it. While showing photos of the jacket at our Fiber Guild’s meeting last week, I received some nice feedback as well, including comments that my mother is an attractive woman. I hope I look as good as she does when I’m 82.

Well, I’m not promising to be back soon with more posts, but I do hope I will be. Until next time…


Quickie Project

December 16, 2006

My how time flies! I keep meaning to post something, anything, but things just keep getting in the way. I’ve been working on lots of projects, but really can’t post photos of much until after Christmas. And, while I have much about which to be philosophical during this season, I just don’t have a lot of time to put it all down on paper, electronic or not. I do have one thing that I’ve completed recently, for our annual fund raising auction of my guild, and since that event has come and gone, it’s okay to post a photo. Hexagon Pouch

This is made from an elongated hexagon, pieced in the log cabin style, quilted as it was pieced. The front is another elongated hexagon, but with the top end chopped off to provide a straight edge for the opening (which is under the flap). Once I had the piecing done, I put on some beaded embellishments, then assembled the bag. I added a lining to the bag at the time of assembly, so that when the binding went on, I was covering all the raw edges at once. The button is sewn to the flap, and the dangly beads wrap around the button to keep it closed. A pretty rayon twisted cord makes up the strap, which is long enough to wear the pouch around the neck. This project was fast, fun, and well received, so I guess that makes it a winner. I have more ideas for this little concept, but they are way on the back burner, because I have lots of other ideas floating around in my brain, waiting to escape as well.

Until next time…

Look Mom, I’ve Been Published!

November 13, 2006

Many months ago, long enough ago in fact that I’d forgotten it, I submitted a pattern to Accord Publishing for their 2007 beading calendar. When I checked with the publisher, I was informed that my pattern was indeed in, and today I received a copy in the mail. It is the 2007 Bead a Day Beading Calendar. Lo and behold, there’s my pattern, right there on December 3 and 4!! Beading Calendar

I’m excited, to say the least, to have my pattern published in this calendar. It’s full of great projects and clear explanations of the techniques needed to do them. Hours and hours of fun and enjoyment will greet the owner of this calendar. The projects run the gamut from easy to challenging and I’ve already found several that I want to try out. Now, if I could only figure out how to do without sleep.

Until next time…

Brad, who’s brad?

November 12, 2006

A while back I went into the scrapbooking store, thinking there wasn’t any trouble that I could get into in there. Wrong. Back in the corner, I found the eyelets and the brads. I bought a few eyelets, but right now I’m not thinking they’re going to be much fun, but the brads are another story altogether. I’ve had them floating around in my stash for a few months, but today I finally found a reason to drag them out. I’ve been working on a little pouch style purse for my daughter (I won’t say how long I’ve been working on it), made from a single panel which will then be folded into a purse shape. All the pieces are silk, with one very irritating exception – that’s another story – and most of the fabrics are solid color. One patch, however, was made from a particularly modern, particularly abstract necktie. Selecting the proper embellishment for this piece was quite a dilemma. I thought about crosshatching the entire patch with black thread, with a bead at each junction, but that didn’t really do anything for me. Inspiration came in the form of these cute little brads, with little words or sayings on them. bradsonsilk2.jpgInterspersed between them are a few smaller ones with a brushed finish. For those unfamiliar with brads, they’ve been around for years in the form of little brass button type things that kids use in elementary school to put moving hands on their construction paper clocks. Recently they’ve become very popular with the scrapbooking set, of which I’m not a member. The backs have two pointed prongs which meet together at the center of the back of the brad. The two prongs are pushed through the construction paper, or in this case fabric, and then are separated and pressed flat against the back side of the project.

This being my first use of them, I learned a couple of things right off the bat. The fabric in this project is silk, and using the brad itself to push the prongs through the silk and foundation muslin could easily result in some pulled threads. After the first one, I used the tips of very sharp pair of scissors to make a pilot hole. This was really only an issue with the three larger ones, the points on the smaller ones were fine enough not to cause a problem. Also, it might not be a bad idea to use a bit of stabilizer behind the brads, just to give the fabric a bit more heft.

The first thing my daughter asked when I showed it to her was, “will there be any embroidery in between?” The answer is no, I like it just the way it is, and in this example, I think the minimalist approach works just fine. Besides, the fact that I couldn’t come up with any good embroidery ideas was the reason I got the brads out in the first place.

Until next time…

Quick Knitting Project

November 8, 2006

I was asked by the ladies at my local yarn shop, the Fiber House, to help make some samples for the shop. They were looking for gift items that could be done up quickly. The pattern comes from the book “One Skein Wonders” and instead of the suggested perle cotton I used some gorgeous Karabella Vintage Cotton in a pretty green. Knitted Lace BookmarkThe one on the right is made exactly like the pattern in the book and the one on the left is a minor modification to give the bookmark pointed ends. The beads were added after they were blocked and starched. This knitted up very quickly, I made the first one in about an hour and a half while watching TV. If you didn’t want to add beads, you could just as easily make a tassel from the left over yarn, or from some pretty silk ribbon in matching or contrasting colors.

I have plenty of other knitting projects to do before Christmas, so I’d best be getting after them.

Until next time…

Use it and Lose It?

October 27, 2006

Good Heavens, what if I use it up?!!

Do you have items in your stash that you don’t want to use because it might not be the right project? I’ve come across several comments lately in e-mails and blogs in which people are saying that they didn’t want to use a particular item from their stash, because then it would be gone. Judging by these comments and the way I feel about my stash, this club has a fairly large membership, and I’m certain I could be elected president-for-life.

I’ve had remarkable success, usually at estate sales and thrift stores, in finding needlework treasures. When the estate of a very talented and prolific needleworker was donated to a local church for their thrift store, I was able to purchase literally miles of various kinds of silk thread and other interesting items for a fabulous price. Pearsall’s Silk ThreadThey are carefully stored in their own containers, awaiting the perfect project. But what if the perfect project never comes along? I’m awash with excuses not to use the silk threads. First, I could never replace what I have without spending big $$$. Second, it’s the “silk is too nice to use on a utilitarian object” rationale. Then there’s the “what if I need it for a different project that really is the perfect place for it?” question. So finally, I did give in and break out the silk floss; after all, I bought two skeins of every color. Also, I’m currently only using the most boring of the colors. The project is a Wyoming landscape, and until I start adding flowers and creatures, etc., we’re in a golds, oranges, tan and sage green rut. I’d love to get back to work on this project, if I could only figure out where it’s hiding.

Among the silks were two huge cones of buttonhole twist, in two different weights. Undyed Silk ThreadAnd yes, I’ve barely scratched the surface of those as well. I did take a few yards of them to try my hand at dyeing with Kool-Aid, which came out great and was a lot of fun. However, the lion’s share is still on the cone, and not going anywhere anytime soon.

It’s not just the silk thread, oh no. I have cotton threads in all shapes and sizes, and even a little wool. And let’s not leave out the bits of lace, trims, crocheted edgings, etc. Then there are the beads. It used to be just seed beads, mainly due to some really great aquisitions. But after seeing some really wonderful work that went beyond the mere seed bead, of course I began collecting non-seed beads. I call them non-seed beads because they run the gamut of bead types, from the basic base metal beads to be found at my local Ben Franklin to some really cool vintage beads from a local estate.

There’s that word again. Estate. I’ve been to a lot of estate sales. I’ve been lured to them by newspaper ads, auction notices, announcements at guild meetings, and chance comments from friends who know I love to collect this sort of thing.

There’s an underlying current here. I’m buying from the heirs of people like me. Ladies who collected, horded, stashed their stuff. But the big question, to me anyway, is: Did they use it? Or am I buying stuff they purchased in hopes of using one day, on the perfect project. In two cases, I know they did use it. Both were very prolific textile artists, and they DID many things with their materials. One lady was a dealer for the thread company, and a lot of the things in her estate were backstock that she originally intended to sell. But what about the others? Was I pawing through the things of a woman who had great plans and ambitions, but was waiting for the right project? Perhaps the family members had scooped up all the beautiful finished things these ladies made and kept them as keepsakes. I sure hope so, because they weren’t in evidence at the sales.

I’m kind of a ‘seat-of-the-pants’ person. I have a terrible time maintaining a calendar, and I’m not very good at planning out a daily schedule. I often realize I’m supposed to be somewhere ten minutes away five minutes before I should be there. Given my blonde hair, the word ‘ditz’ has probably entered a few minds after an encounter with me. A rigid scheduler, I’m not. Like the project finishers previously mentioned, I have a hard time comprehending the people who are always there and seated quietly well before an event begins. I just don’t see how they achieve all that punctuality. So why then do I have such a hard time breaking free to use a particular item from my stash until the right project comes along? Why do I agonize over using things from the special stash? When my husband of 26 years proposed after we had been dating only 3 weeks, I blurted out “Yes” without spending even a tenth of the time it takes me to decide it’s okay to use some of that silk thread. That lightnening fast decision has worked out awfully well for me, so how come I can’t bring myself to cut into the silk?

While this whole thing isn’t me worrying about my ultimate departure from this world, I can’t help but wonder what people will say about me at the estate sale my family will undoubtedly hold. Hopefully it won’t be “How sad, all these beautiful materials and they were still brand new.”

Until next time…

More Beadwork

October 16, 2006

I’m having more fun playing, er learning to use the new camera, so while I’m thinking beadwork, here are some more photos of my beading adventures. The first one is another item in the victorian flower technique. I made the petals individually and then sewed them onto the crazy quilt block. When making beaded flowers of this sort, the usual material for stringing is fine gauge wire. For these, I used beading thread and found them to be very floppy and slightly annoying. Also, without a little support under the petals, you don’t get the three dimensional character you would if using wire. Orange Beaded Flower Free standing beaded flowers can be bent into shape after constructing the flower. I guess I just didn’t want to use wire on a textile work. They are made with orange lined yellow seed beads, which are much prettier than the name sounds. On the left hand edge of the photo is a piece of vintage lace with straight stitches and clusters of 3 dyed pale orange seed beads. I seem to be on an orange kick lately, though this block was made some months ago as a sample for a brochure for Quilt Wyoming, where I taught last summer. Somehow, a lot of my more recent work has orange in it as well. The big rose on the right is a spider web rose made with 7mm silk ribbon that I dyed myself, probably using calligraphy pens.

The second photo is a beaded mother of pearl button that I did a few weeks ago. I was looking at photos of beaded faces and cabochons, and I found a tutorial of this method at About.com I can’t say I’m too fond of the object in the photo, but scroll down to the technique to get to the good part. Make sure you join the ends of the strip together as shown, as you need the beads in the right place to do the subsequent steps. Ya wanna know how I know that?? Beaded Button

I didn’t have any cabochons handy, so I dug out this enormous button from my stash. The button was about 1 1/4″ diameter before being beaded. Before putting on the fringe, I showed it to my husband, who said it looked just like a steering wheel cover. Hmmph!! But, he’s right, that’s a perfect description of what it’s like. There’s nothing holding the beadwork to the button, except the fact that it wraps around the edges. It’s just like the fleece steering wheel cover that I had on my old car. If you handle it too much, the beadwork will squish out of shape and you have to push it back where it belongs. Oh, and the back looks much the same as the front. Where some techniques have you putting the button onto a backing and sewing through that backing, this one is completely naked on the back. Once you get the cover on the button, then you can have fun adding fringe, spikes, whatever you like. The fringe-y things in the center are to camouflage the fact that it’s a button, with four big holes in the center. I’m not sure what I plan to do with this, nor am I sure that it’s completed. I was contemplating some long fringe along the bottom. Does a round object have a bottom? It does if you put fringe on one side. It should probably end up being a brooch. For those wondering why I wouldn’t want some sort of backing on it, especially if it’s going to be a brooch, here’s the explanation. First and foremost, I just had to try the technique, right now. One of those ‘because it’s there’ kind of things. I’ve done beaded buttons before with a backing, and they’re great when done that way. Mainly this was just a little adventure in beading. Another good reason to do a button this way is if you had a valuable button that you didn’t want to risk ruining by putting glue on the back. Although it would destroy the beadwork, I could liberate the button any time I wanted and be right back where I started, the button no worse for the wear. I’m one of those purists who believe that if you have something old and in good condition, it should be left that way, not cut into bits and pieces for other projects. Now, give me a stained up old doily and a pair of scissors, and then stand back. If the item can’t repaired or cleaned, then it’s fair game.

Until next time…